7,000 people marched in Jerusalem’s 20th Pride March earlier this month in a celebration of LGBTQ rights in the city. Despite threats of violence, the march ended peacefully amid tight security. Participants marched from Liberty Bell Park to Independence Park in downtown Jerusalem where speakers — including the Speaker of the Knesset — addressed the crowd. The Jerusalem Pride March is funded by the Jerusalem Open House, and for the first time this year, received extra funds from a tech company.
In his speech, Speaker of the Knesset Mickey Levy said, “I was shocked to the depths of my soul by the unbridled incitement and slander against the LGBT community and the threats of murder. I was shocked and so I came today to stand against this evil specter.”
He added, “I came [today] to say loud and clear as the Knesset Speaker, who represents the Israeli public, that members of LGBT community are equal Israeli citizens who deserve full rights. It is your right to love whoever you want. It is your right to marry whoever you love, and your right to set up a family like everybody else. These are not privileges but basic rights of every citizen of the state.”
Also present were two government ministers — Minister of Public Security Omer Barlev and Minister of Social Equality Meirav Cohen.
Uri Banki, the father of Shira Banki, a 15-years old who was murdered during the 2015 Jerusalem Pride Parade also spoke. “We understand that unconditional love is not only between everyone sitting here next to us, but also towards people who prefer not to march — except those who express hatred and incitement to murder,” he said.