TEL AVIV — More than a thousand people marched in the streets of Tel Aviv on Thursday to protest against transphobia and anti-LGBT violence in Israel.
The protest, labeled “Taking Back the Night,” was organized by Israel’s transgender advocacy group Gila, in response to recent attacks on gay and transgender citizens.
Earlier this month, a transgender woman was brutally attacked with a pepper spray and an electric stun gun in Tel-Aviv by a group of border officers.
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Israel’s LGBT community reacted angrily after leading Israeli media organizations reported the attack as a “prank,” while police refused to register it as a “hate crime.”
More recently, a mob attacked and beat several gay men in Tel Aviv while police again refused to register the incident as a “hate crime.”
In both incidents, police released the suspects to home custody rather than detain them.
The events galvanized over a thousand people to attended the protest from across Israel’s LGBT community, carrying banners with slogans such as: “Nobody decides whether I’m a man or woman!” and “We can’t live with transphobia in the streets!”
Participants marched from south Tel-Aviv, near where both attacks occurred, to a rally that was held in downtown.
Lilach Ben David. a transgender woman and leading advocate in Gila project stated at the rally: “Prank? What’s so funny about an attack on a helpless woman by 11 men with pepper spray and electric stun gun? If the victim wasn’t a transgender woman, nobody would have thought it ‘funny’. But transgender women are dehumanized, we and our bodies are a ‘joke’ which does not warrant respect given to other bodies.”
Ido Katri, an attorney and transgender man who co-founded Gila, stated: “Friends are exposed to violence, discrimination and mistreatment. Today we stand with them and say, enough! We’ve had enough with this violence, enough with the attacks and enough with discrimination. The trans community is done with silence, from now on we’re angry!”
Niki Sever, an Israeli transgender man and protest participant, told LGBTQ Nation: “We won’t remain silent over injustice, violence and discrimination based on gender identity or sexuality. These are human rights, we’re not prepared to be second class citizens, and everyone should understand this.”
Moshiko Hadad and Or Azulay, who were attacked last week and participated in the protest, told LGBTQ Nation: “We’ve got to speak out! Israel has a hate crimes law but it’s rarely applied or enforced, instead attacks on LGBT people are often classified under much more lenient offences, that’s totally unacceptable.”