Israeli gays petition court for march date

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World Pride organiser the Jerusalem Open House has submitted a petition to the Supreme Court today, against the Israel Police and the Jerusalem Municipality.

The petition demands that permission be granted to hold the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance without delay, and that it be held before the upcoming Jewish holidays.

The march was due to be held in the month of August but was postponed by the Open House in light of the military conflict in the north of the country at the time.

After the cease-fire, the Open House submitted a request for a permit to hold the march at a newly determined date.

The date was rejected by the Jerusalem Police, that claimed that they were “overstretched”. In response, the Open House proposed six alternative dates (for the month of September, before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year) but for over a week and up to the date of the petition’s submission the police had failed to respond.

As all the dates in question are in the upcoming weeks, the practical implications of the police’s delayed response is the thwarting, through evasion and with no legal basis, of the holding of the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance this year.

The petition states that the right to hold the march in Jerusalem is based on the rights to freedom of expression, the principle of equality, and the right to freedom of assembly , which are basic civil rights in the State of Israel.

By refusing to protect the right of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community to hold the march, or to provide the necessary security for the event, the Jerusalem Police has pre-emptively capitulated to violence and has abandoned its role as the guardians of the rule of law.

The Supreme Court has already ruled, unequivocally, a number of times in the past that the role of the police is to prevent violence being perpetrated against demonstrators – not to deny the right to freedom of expression to the demonstrators.

The petition was submitted on behalf of the Jerusalem Open House and The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) by lawyers Gilad Barnea, and Dan Yakir, ACRI’s Chief Legal Counsel.

Noah Sattath, the executive director of the Jerusalem Open House, added “The role of the police is to defend freedom of expression, and if needed, we are certain that the court will remind the police of their duties.

“A failure to issue a permit for the march is a capitulation to violence, whereas the holding of the Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance is designed to promote freedom of expression and equality, with the aspiration for a democratic and pluralistic Israel.

“The District Court already ruled a year ago that attempts by the Jerusalem Municipality to prevent the march contravened the law; in view of the protracted and illegitimate attempts to limit freedom of expression, I call on all those who are concerned about the image of Jerusalem to support the JOH and join the march which represents the true spirit of Jerusalem.”