Reinforced by a strong police presence,
thousands of people marched through Jerusalem Thursday as the city's
gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender community held their annual
A police spokesman said hundreds of extra police officers had been drafted in to ensure the parade passed without incident. Police expected around 5,000 marchers, he said.
The marchers walked slowly through the streets from the city's Independence Park to Liberty Bell Park behind a banner proclaiming, in English, Hebrew and Arabic, "The Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance."
Many of the participants held their own banners or waved flags of different colours, with the gay rainbow flag prominent.
Somebody unidentified also over-painted a large Hebrew sign saying "Welcome to Jerusalem," which stands at the city's western entrance, in the rainbow colours.
A spokeswoman for the Jerusalem Open House, which serves as the local gay pride center, said the centre had no knowledge of the painting.
Thursday's march was the 10th annual pride parade in Jerusalem., The march in the city is generally far more controversial than its Tel Aviv counterpart, where the annual pride parade is attended by scores of thousands of participants.
Tel Aviv is seen by many as a world gay capital and a "bubble" of tolerance in a region otherwise hostile to homosexuals.
That image was tarnished in 2009 when a gunman shot dead a 26-year-old man and a 17-year-old woman, and injured 11 others, at a community centre for homosexuals in the Mediterranean metropolis' centre. The crime, described as the most homophobic in Israel's history, has not been solved.
In Jerusalem, three gay marchers were stabbed and injured by religious zealots during the 2005 parade.
In 2006, large ultra-Orthodox protests against the gay parade erupted, with religious Jews taking to the streets of Jerusalem for several nights, burning rubbish bins and hurling objects at police.
The protests also spread to the ultra-Orthodox Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak.
Police that year had to force organizers to hold the event in a secured, closed stadium instead.
Last year, an ultra-Orthodox protestor was arrested after he threw several bags of liquid at the marchers.
Most Popular Stories
- SEO Traffic Lab Celebrate Wins at Digital Marketing Event 'Internet World 2013' in London
- Social Media Initiatives Should Follow Customers' Lead
- Apple CEO: Offshore Units Not a 'Tax Gimmick'
- U.S. Senate Accuses Apple of Large-scale Tax Avoidance
- UTEP Water Recycling Project Wins Venture Titles
- Marketo Makes a Mint in IPO: Stock Shoots Up More than 50 Percent
- Bieber Booed at Billboard Awards
- Crude Oil Up, Gasoline Down
- Austin Startup Compare Metrics Raises $3.5 Million for Expansion
- Why So Many Top 'Car Guys' Are Actually Women