Jerusalem Pride defied death threats and counterprotests to celebrate LGBTQ+ rights loudly and proudly.
Around 7,000 people attended the Jerusalem Pride march on Thursday (2 June), with 2022 marking the event’s 20th anniversary.
Knesset speaker Mickey Levy addressed the crowds, saying he was “shocked to the depths of my soul” by the threats.
“So I came today to stand against this evil specter,” he said, per The Times of Israel.
“You are entitled to love who you want, you are entitled to marry who you love, you are entitled to raise a family like anyone else. These are not privileges, these are basic rights for every citizen in the country.”
Israeli police arrested 10 people over suspicions that they were planning to harm marchers, according to The Times of Israel.
Police confirmed that they were monitoring a total of 180 people who could pose a threat to the event, to which 2,400 police officers were deployed following its history of anti-LGBTQ+ attacks.
Prior to the 2022 march, a vicious message was sent to an event organiser, Jerusalem Open House community director Emuna Klein Barnoy, saying: “We will not allow the Pride Parade to take place in Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the Holy City. Shira Banki’s fate awaits you.”
In 2015, 16-year-old Shira Banki was stabbed to death while several others were wounded by an ‘ultra-Orthodox’ Jewish man, Yishai Shlissel, who ambushed the parade.
The threats were sent on Facebook and Twitter from an account called ‘The brothers of Yishai Schlissel’. The same message was also sent to pro-LGBTQ+ politicians Gilad Kariv, Naama Lazimi and Eitan Ginzburg.
Police have confirmed the arrest of a 21-year-old man named Yehuda Gedalia who is thought to have sent the messages.
Despite the threats of violence, attendees were still seen dancing and displaying LGBTQ+ flags in the streets of Jerusalem.
Alon Shachar, event organiser and CEO of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, said: “In the 20 years we have been marching in Jerusalem, we have experienced violence, and even in 2022 there are those who are trying to push us out of the city.”
“We have nothing to be ashamed of. And Jerusalem – you have nothing to be ashamed of. Those who should be ashamed are all those who produce and allow such expressions of violence”.