Pride Event in Israeli Settlement Draws Opposition From Multiple Directions

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07/11/2021

An LGBTQ Pride event in Ariel on Thursday marked one of the first such events in an Israeli settlement. The event was the initiative of 26-year-old Gal Hevroni, a gay former combat soldier now in his third year of civil engineering studies at Ariel University. Staging it was an uphill battle, though: Ariel, the fourth-largest Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territories, is about 80 percent secular and 20 percent religious, but anti-LGBTQ extremism is not unknown there. Many of Hevroni’s neighbors have adorned their balconies with banners of the far-right, virulently homophobic Noam party (which is part of the Religious Zionism political alliance that has six seats in the Knesset), and sectoral tensions seemingly spooked local institutions from offering their support. Hevroni’s pitch for a campus LGBTQ event was refused by the university’s administration; a youth center balked at hosting the event when it found out a drag queen would feature; and the municipality refused to endorse the project. “We didn’t even ask them for money,” Hevroni says. “We just asked them if we could put the municipality’s logo in our flyer, to get their stamp of approval for this event and our community. But the mayor, Eli Shaviro, just said ‘No, I don’t want any problem with the religious people,’” he adds.

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