Organisers of the first gay pride parade in the southern Israeli city of Be'er Sheva have decided to protest against a high court ruling, after they were denied permission to use a particular route for the march. The first ever pride parade scheduled to be held in the city on Thursday (14 July) was cancelled after the High Court asked the organisers to alter their route.
The Be'er Sheva's Pride House and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel – organisers of the event –decided to cancel the parade and cited "it is not logical to relegate the gay community to a pride parade on a side route and not on the city's main streets".
Earlier, the police moved court and sought that the route be altered due to security concerns. The high court sided by the police and asked Pride House and the civil rights body to change the initial path.
The decision of cancelling the event came after the court ruled in favour of the police. The ruling also mentioned that the police decision was justified as the community is vulnerable to violence and that authorities would not be able to take responsibility of the participants.
It also rejected the petition filed by the two non-profit organisations and said that the intelligence report presented by police on potential violence at the parade was "credible". Opposing the court's decision, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said, "In our view, if there are threats, the police need to deal with them, whether on side streets or main streets."
Zehava Gal-On, an Israeli politician and a member of Knesset for Meretz has condemned the court ruling. "The attempt of the police and the municipality of Beersheba to hide the gay pride parade is low and shameful," the Jerusalem Post quoted her as saying.
However, the city's police have their own justification for diverting the parade. According to them, they are not only concerned about the safety of the parade's members, but also that such an event should not hurt any religious sentiments.
Over the past years, smaller gay pride events have been held in Be'er Sheva at the city youth centre.