The Jerusalem gay pride parade is an annual pride parade taking place in Jerusalem. Since the first March for Pride and Tolerance in 2002, Jerusalem Pride—"Love Without Border"—has become an established event in Jerusalem, each year bringing in additional partners and supporters.
Twice, in 2005 and 2015, it was marred by violence as an ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed marchers with a knife, resulting in three injuries (2005) and in six injuries, one fatal (2015). The man arrested was named as Yishai Schlissel who was jailed after the 2005 attack and was released from imprisonment three weeks before he attacked again in 2015.
Since the 1990s an annual gay pride parade takes place in Tel Aviv, Israel and sometimes also in Eilat. Tel Aviv had previously been the venue for the only yearly gay pride parade in the Middle East. Tel Aviv was first city in Israel to have a gay pride parade, which started in the street of Shenkin and expanded to large-scale events in the following years. In 2005, 100,000 people participated in the Tel Aviv gay pride parade.
The Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance is the focal point of gay pride events in Jerusalem and has existed since 1997. Since 2002, it has held small annual gay pride parades in Jerusalem.
In 2007, the Israeli Knesset approved legislation to prevent gay pride parades in Jerusalem, and in response then-Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert's office released a statement that he "does not think that Jerusalem is the appropriate location for holding gay-pride parades due to the special sensitive nature of the city, although he believes that such matters should not be limited by law." The legislation was again introduced in 2008, but again did not become law, and in June 2008 the Israeli High Court denied petitions to stop gay pride parades in Jerusalem, and a parade was held in 2008 and in 2009.
In 2005 a municipal ban attempted to halt the parade, but it was overturned by a district court order. Protesters, many of them religious Jews, lined the mile-long parade route shouting insults and displaying signs with messages like: "You are corrupting our children," and "Jerusalem is not San Francisco." During the parade, Yishai Schlissel, a Haredi Jew, stabbed three parade participants with a kitchen knife. During a police interrogation, he described the motive behind his actions: "I came to murder on behalf of God. We can't have such abomination in the country." The perpetrator was subsequently convicted of three counts of attempted murder and sentenced to 12 years in prison. The Jerusalem District Court also ordered that NIS 280 million (about USD 60 million) be paid as compensation to the victims. Schlissel was released in 2015 and returned to the Pride Parade in 2015 to attack again.
In 2006 it was announced that the WorldPride event held each year in different capitals or large cities of the world will come to Jerusalem. The 22nd annual conference of InterPride was held in October 2003 in Montreal, Canada; with over 150 delegates from 51 cities from around the world in attendance, the conference voted to accept the bid of the Jerusalem Open House to host WorldPride 2006.
The parade was scheduled for the 6th of August and received harsh objection from Israeli religious circles from the offshoot. It was eventually cancelled due to the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, but a week of events did take place as scheduled and included five conferences, a film festival, exhibitions, and literary and political events. The parade itself was cancelled but the Jerusalem Open House announced that it would hold a parade on November 10 after reaching an agreement with the police and with the municipality.
Virulent opposition from Haredi and other Orthodox Jewish corners as well as from the Israeli Arab sector has led many to believe that unless the gay pride parade was canceled, a violent outcome would be unavoidable. Others who came out against the parade include Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Shlomo Amar and MK Yitzhak Levy.
The main opposition from the Haredi Jewish sector was organized by the Edah HaChareidis rabbinical organization. On 18 October, Rabbis from across the Orthodox spectrum called for the parade to be forbidden. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who was one of the first to express his opposition, called for a "demonstration of a million".
Well-known right-wing activists Baruch Marzel, Itamar Ben-Gvir and Hillel Weiss called for a 'holy war' against the parade and announced that unless the parade were cancelled, it would lead to violence. The organizers of the parade filed a police complaint against them, accusing them of incitement to murder.
On the night of Thursday 2 November, a demonstration in Meah Shearim led to rioting. Thousands of protesters blocked roads with burning garbage cans, and police responded in force, sending hundreds of Yassam riot police and Border Police armed with batons, water cannons and horses. Seven policemen and an unknown number of protestors were wounded. Haredi spokesmen strongly spoke out against the police for using an "excessive level of violence".
On 30 July 2015, only three weeks after being released, Yishai Schlissel stabbed six marchers during the Jerusalem gay pride parade. The act was widely condemned, including by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. One of the victims, 16-year-old Shira Banki, died of her wounds at the Hadassah Medical Center three days later, on 2 August 2015. Shortly after, Prime Minister Netanyahu offered his condolences, adding "We will deal with the murderer to the fullest extent of the law." Schlissel's mother, Rivka, expressed her sorrow over her son actions and espressed solidarity with the visctim saying "We regret this very much and pray for the immediate recovery of the victims". An investigation was launch to examine the failure of identify Schlissel, who was recently released, as a threat.
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