Israel: Twice-cancelled Jerusalem Pride attracts low turnout

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This year’s Jerusalem Pride – which was delayed twice due to the Gaza conflict – has finally gone ahead, but attracted a lower-than-expected turnout.

The Pride event, which was initially due to take place in August but was delayed over security fears during the Gaza conflict, finally took place yesterday.

Held in Shabbat Square, reported figures show between 500-2000 people participated in this year’s parade – a lower turnout than previous Jerusalem Prides.

Elinor Sidi of LGBTQ activist group Jerusalem Open House, told Ynetnews: “The parade was postponed because of the operation in Gaza, and now we’re happy that there is calm and I’m here to march and to tell the rest of the cities to march as well.”

She added: “We are an integral part of the fabric of this city. “The police co-operated and they are more attentive to our needs.

“I want to convey a message that the Gay Pride Parade has become routine in the city and that’s what we’re aiming for.” 

The parade was accompanied by hundreds of police and speculated reasons for the low turnout refers to a controversial Facebook post made by Sidi made on July 20, in which she called to burn down Israel’s military headquarters and called upon soldiers to disobey orders.

The city is considered more conservative than other parts of Israel, with Tel Aviv Pride drawing a 100,000-strong crowd earlier this year.

Nao Luzzati, a lesbian from Modi’in, said: “Here [in Jerusalem] people don’t accept gay people as they do in Tel Aviv.”

Pride marcher Nita Klausner added: “Jerusalem’s come a long way in my eyes in accepting gays.

“A lot of work has been done by the Open House – which is partially supported by the municipality – including funding for support groups, lectures, and activities during the High Holy Days for those who can’t go home to their families.”

There were small anti-gay protests at the event, with Rabbi Ephraim Holtzberg claiming how the former Mayor of Jerusalem Ehud Olmert “started this trend 11 years ago, and unfortunately every time this parade took place disaster befell the people of Israel.

“We know that more than 90% of the residents of the city dislike this parade. This is a holy city and it does not fit anywhere and certainly not in Jerusalem.”

Rabbi Holtzberg threatened another demonstration for this pride, but none took place.