Following a fatal shooting at a Tel Aviv gay youth venue several weeks ago, Jerusalem’s only gay community centre has now employed an armed security guard.
The Open House, which has received threats in the past, has decided to take steps to improve security after two people were killed by a masked gunman at the Tel Aviv centre.
Yonatan Gher, the centre’s executive director, told the Jerusalem Post: “We realised the day after the vicious attack in Tel Aviv that we might have been a little naïve in our expectation or how our surroundings react to us and the level of violence and hatred facing us as a community. We realised there were more steps we needed to take preserve our own community.”
He said the armed guard will search visitors and ensure doors are locked at all times, while emergency panic buttons have been installed at points around the building.
Gher added that gays in Jerusalem were still not safe and any signs outside the Open House are vandalised instantly.
He said: “We are strong when we are together. But we are still not so safe when we are walking alone in the streets. Walking hand-in-hand for us is not so easy in Jerusalem – and it should be.”
The attack has drawn widespread condemnation of violence against gays, with Israeli president Shimon Peres addressing a gay rally in Tel Aviv and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting the scene of the shooting.
The gunman, who killed two and injured a number of others, has still not been caught.