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Turnout for Jerusalem Gay Pride Parade Sets Record

  • VOA News

People take part in the annual gay pride parade in central Jerusalem, July 21, 2016.

People take part in the annual gay pride parade in central Jerusalem, July 21, 2016.

Security was very tight Thursday in Jerusalem for the city's annual gay pride parade, after an ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed a teenage girl to death at last year's march.

About 25,000 people marched this year, a record turnout for the event.

Two men kicked off the parade by getting married under the traditional Jewish wedding canopy, followed by marchers waving rainbow flags, beating drums and hoisting banners with the Star of David.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not appear at the march, but sent a message declaring that all people are equal.

"The march today in Jerusalem is not just a march for the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community," he said. "It is not just a march of a specific community. It is not a march 'for' or 'against.' It is a march of all of us. It is a march of together."

But Jerusalem's Orthodox Jewish community called the parade an "abomination," and several rabbis have spent the week speaking out against the march and condemning gays.

Police on Thursday arrested the brother of Yishai Schlissel, the ultra-Orthodox Jew serving life in prison for stabbing a 16-year-old girl to death at last year's parade. Police suspected Schlissel plotted with his brother, Michael, from inside his prison cell to attack this year's march.

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