Marching for Freedom in Jerusalem

Zachary Cohen, executive director of the Jerusalem Open House, released an open letter to LGBT advocates yesterday, as part of the preparations for the Jerusalem gay pride parade today. In his letter, Cohen compares Russia in 2013, to Jerusalem 2006. Read his words here.

jerusalemToday, Jerusalem is covered in rainbow flags. They proudly welcome the 12th annual Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance. Tomorrow at 5pm, our community, allies, and friends will gather in Independence Park and march to the Knesset to demand equality and justice.

I am sure many of you remember the severe homophobia and violence that we suffered as we began to demand our rights. We continue to struggle against bigotry, yet we have made much progress. In past years, rainbow flags were hung hours before Pride, and snatched down as the parade marched across the city. With much pressure, this year the Jerusalem municipality granted our request to raise the flags a day in advance. The entire city will know that Jerusalem Pride is coming.

As we celebrate Pride tomorrow, we will keep in mind the struggles of the LGBTQ community worldwide. This year, we welcome Russian LGBTQ activist Natalia Tsymbalova as she takes the stage to share her experiences under the violently homophobic legislation recently enacted in her country. She will share her experience of peacefully marching in the St. Petersburg Pride while rocks were hurled at her by homophobic protesters.

Pictures from this horrible incident can be seen here.

Tomorrow, come march with us towards equal rights and freedom as a global community. We will raise our voices in support of the Russian LGBTQ community and LGBTQ communities worldwide. Natalia Tsymbalova travelled to Jerusalem specifically to march in Jerusalem Pride, explaining that “the situation in Jerusalem is closer to Russia than Tel Aviv.” We believe that our activism is most critical in places such as Jerusalem and St. Petersburg, where Pride is not a celebration but a necessity.