Jerusalem gay center hires armed guard

Fri. August 21, 2009 12:00 AM by News Staff

Following a masked gunman's deadly attack on a community center for gay teens in Tel Aviv earlier this month, Jerusalem's only gay community center has now employed an armed security guard.

The Jerusalem Post reports there is an armed guard posted at the door of The Open House for the first time in the center's 12-year history.

Yonatan Gher, the center's executive director, told the 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.

The Open House leadership has received threats in the past. Gher also told the paper that gays in Jerusalem were still not safe and signs placed outside the center are vandalized within 24 hours.

"We are strong when we are together," said Gher. "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 gunman in the Tel Aviv, who killed two and injured a number of others, has not been caught.