Hundreds protested outside Beer Sheva’s city hall against the city’s decision to relocate the Gay Pride March to a less-central street. This decision, they said, is taking the city and the country backwards.

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After the recent Gay Pride Parade was cancelled in Beer Sheva, the local LGBT community protested in front of the municipality. “Terror is not when you kill Shira Banki or Nir Katz (who were killed in hate crimes), it is when you tell a gay person: ‘Stay in the closet’,” says Uri Shmilovitch, one of the protestors.

It was supposed to be a day of celebrations with the first Gay Pride Parade held in Israel’s southern city, Beer Sheva; symbolizing tolerance and openness.  However, after the Chief Rabbi of Beer Sheva called it the “Parade of Abomination”, the organizers protested and the police decided to change the route. 

Noah explains the protest, “Once again, they want to hide us, to make us go away.  No, understand, we are here.” The police presented evidence to the Supreme Court that both sides were planning on using violence as well as the claim that it might offend ultra-religious sensitivities. Therefore, the parade route was changed to avoid major streets in the city. The organizers decided to cancel the parade. “They claim that we will offend certain people,” says Osnat. “What about my feelings — aren’t they hurt? I don’t have to be protected?  They talked about threats using weapons — they can’t attack us on a different street?” 

Rubik Danilovitch, mayor of Beer Sheva responded, “Unfortunately, the organizers decided to cancel the parade even though they received a permit to march. Only the police can sanction the route.”  The police refused to comment. This day, which was supposed to be a day of hope for the LGBT community in the periphery, became a reminder that the distance to the “State of Tel Aviv” is farther than ever.