Launching Jerusalem Pride March

Last year’s Gay Pride Parade will be remembered for the murder of Shira Banki and stabbing of six others by Yishai Schlissel. The message of this year’s parade, scheduled for July 21, is: “We are here to stay.” The Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance Held a Press conference and a formal toast for the upcoming Jerusalem Pride March on July 21st.

Banki Family an Singer Korin Allal by Matan Gapel
Banki Family with singer Korin Allal and Jerusalem Open House CEO Sarah Kala-Meir (Photo by Matan Gapel)

The Event was hosted by a great benefactor of the Jerusalem Open House (JOH) – Lynn Schusterman, at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation Offices, launching the official LGTBQ Jerusalem Pride March on July 21st

In her speech, Sarah Kala-Meir (CEO of JOH) emphasized that: “LGTBQ community members, born and raised in Jerusalem, are suffering a life of fear and embarrassment, they walk the streets of their own home town, feeling insecure, afraid for their own wellbeing. They struggle renting apartments or even finding a job, this reality has to change.
Israel 2016 should not tolerate rainbow flags being burned, ongoing threats, verbal and physical violence towards LGTBQ community members. We invite all of you, who value human rights such as equality and tolerance to come and march with us on The Jerusalem Pride March on 21st of July.”

Sarah Kala also stated the absence of Israeli Police representatives, who were invited to explain about the new expanded route of the March this year, but chose not to attend.

Philanthropist Lynn Schusterman greeted the guests and mentioned that: “We as a society must speak up and raise our voices for LGTBQ community, to help everyone understand the importance of that matter, we should not fear those who try to silence us.”

Deputy Mayor, Ofer Berkowitz also attended the event: “We experience a rise in radical occurrences throughout Israel as well as the entire world. Here in Jerusalem we must keep on encouraging organizations such as JOH who contribute to an open and accepting environment, creating a true dialogue and encounters between different communities. Every community in Jerusalem needs to know they have a rightful place in their city. LGTBQ community is here to stay and we are here with you.”

Khaled Alk’am, a JOH volunteer for the past 5 years, shared his own personal story: “It’s not easy being an east Jerusalem Arabic LGTBQ community member. Threats and violence are part of our everyday lives, in some cases we are forced to escape, stay with a friend or even sleep on the streets, for we are being haunted constantly.
Many of my friends, who were less fortunate than I, had to leave Jerusalem and even Israel because they cannot bear the ongoing struggle. I invite all of you who care for Jerusalem, peace and co-existence, for freedom of speech and tolerance, come March with us, help JOH create an open and accepting Jerusalem for us all.”

Israeli Singer Korin Allal preformed her song “Shir LeSHira” (Shira’s song) in memory of Shira Banki who was murdered at last year’s Pride March. Allal told the Banki family that ever since last year’s tragedy, she performs Shira’s Song in every concert, telling Shira’s story.

Other distinguished guests included: Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance representatives, Shira Banki’s family, Keren Katzman representative of JDC Israel and Morning Star foundation, Local community leaders, and other great benefactors.

pride March route
The 2016 Jerusalem Pride Parade route