Philip C. Johnson, Ph.D.
June 6, 2019
It used to be said that you go to Jerusalem to pray and to Tel Aviv to play. I guess that old saying has not been true for a while. Today, marching down the street in front of my hotel was Jerusalem’s gay pride parade. The group consisted of the LGBTQ community as well as supporters, families, children and even dogs adorned with rainbow flags.
The parade ended in Independence Park where a concert is, at this moment being held in honor of freedom, non-discrimination, inclusion, acceptance and the ever-present slogan, “Love is Love.”
The event is heavily policed by 2500 police offices for an expected group of 30,000 participants according to reports. When I spoke to the security officers, most indicated that they just wanted the event to be over so that they could go home. But they also knew that there is a lot of pressure for this event to proceed without problems – as the police have been heavily criticized in the past for not adequately protecting the marchers nor squelching the actions of those protesting the expression of gay rights. This time around, the police have vowed “to act decisively against anyone who tried to disrupt the event or harm participants,” according to the Times of Israel.
And to show their support even further, the police have begun hiring and training transgender officers. Conservative Jerusalem, home to sacred sites of Jews, Christians and Muslims has come a long way from her conservative, religious past – not only in the sense of past criminalization of homosexuality, open discrimination or suggesting an Iran-like intervention of stoning. In my conversations with police, hotel employees and in shops, I heard nothing but praise for the celebration and inclusion of this minority group into the mainstream of society.
But of course, such an event in a city like this could never be completely innocuous. So far, 49 people have been arrested or detained for trying to disrupt the Jerusalem Pride March. No word on how many Bible verses have been arrested.
Pictures are my own, here on location, in Jerusalem.