Trans pride march to take place in Jerusalem, despite threats

The 14th Annual March for Pride and Tolerance in Jerusalem will take place tomorrow, to celebrate the diversity within the city and challenge those who continue to oppose LGBT rights in Israel.

Organised by the Jerusalem Open House – which also runs the city’s LGBT community centre – the festival drew over five thousand people last year.

Those behind the the event say that while religious communities within the city have come to accept the LGBT community in recent years – over a dozen Jewish congregations are cosponsoring the event – right wing, conservative activists continue to protest against gay rights and incite homophobia, with an increased focus on the trans community in the city.

That, organisers say, is why the focus of this year’s march is on the transgender community of Israel, and has been titled “Transforming Jerusalem.”

A spokesperson for the march said: “The transgender community of Jerusalem faces more violent acts, extreme social exclusion and institutional discrimination than any other part of the LGBT community.

“Thus, the March will endorse gender diversity, explaining that gender is so much more than “one or the other.”

“We will fight for our rights and celebrate Jerusalem as the multicultural city, which belongs to everyone regardless of identity.”

However, the March still faces staunch opposition from the anti-gay faction of the community.

In a recent interview Israel National News, conservative activist, Rabbi Efraim Holzberg, warned of “disasters of water and fire unless a large protest was held, causing the cancellation of the March.”

Holzberg will be joined by extreme right wing organization, Lehava, who have announced they will also be protesting the March, “holding offensive signs warning of the impact of the LGBT community on children.”

In June, over 180,000 people took part in Tel Aviv pride, the largest LGBT celebration in the Middle East.

Later that month, the Israeli government rejected an an amendment extending anti-discrimination protections to LGBT people.

The opposition legislation, which had been proposed by MK Ofer Shelah of Yesh Atid, would have extended all existing anti-discrimination legislation to protect based on sexual orientation and gender identity.