NETIVOT, ISRAEL — (05-20-22) — We are sad to report that the first-ever LGBTQ+ Pride Parade that was scheduled to take place in the city of Netivot, was canceled last Wednesday after a bullet was placed on the office door of one of the organizers’ mothers and, after the family vehicle of another organizer was vandalized.

The Netivot LGBTQ+ Pride Parade, which was planned for June 3, faced intense right wing conservative opposition from a number of local residents, with a petition against the march receiving over 4,800 signatures and a number of local rabbis speaking out against it. Some residents also held protests against the march.

In fact, posters put up by the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance to advertise the LGBTQ+ event in the city were vandalized last Tuesday night.

“It is important for us to make it clear to vandalizers, haters and scorners that there is nothing that will stop us from working in Jerusalem for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community, and this year, too, we will proudly march in the upcoming Pride and Tolerance March in the city,” said JOH CEO Alon Shachar.

Posts about the march on local Facebook groups such as “Netivot my city”, had a large number of comments condemning the LGBTQ+ Pride Event, with many residents complaining that the southern Israeli city is not the place to hold an event like a Pride march.

In response to the threats and the cancellation of the march, the Agudah – The Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel – wanted to hold a protest to support the LGBTQ+ community in Netivot last Thursday in front of the city’s municipality but was rejected by Netivot police, saying it might harm public safety. Furthermore police say that they rejected Aguda’ request on the grounds that the proposed site for the protest was adjacent to an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood.

Now in fairness, Netivot police did offer to allow the demonstration to be held at a site near the entrance to the town but the group turned down the offer..

“A death threat against one of us is a threat against all of us. We will not be silent when the personal security of our friends in Netivot is in jeopardy and we will not be silent when LGBTQ-phobia raises its head again,” said the Agudah last Wednesday.

“In recent years, we have initiated and supported dozens of pride and tolerance events all over the country,” the association added. “Year by year, the number of local pride events is growing because the LGBTQ+ community is everywhere and deserves to feel at home wherever it is.”

“Today, for the first time, together with the activists, we were sadly forced to make a decision to cancel a tolerance and pride event in Netivot for fear of the lives of the event organizers. A live bullet was sent to the mother of one of the organizers and the message was clear: Pride means murder,” said the Agudah, adding that they were hiring a security company to protect their activists and calling on the police to provide protection as well.

“The fact that in 2022, the very intention to hold an event, whose essence is tolerance and acceptance within the framework of discourse leads to explicit threats of murder, is the convincing proof that our struggle is not over. We will reach Netivot and reach every place and every town because we are here and everywhere.” said te Agudah.

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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