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The Pride Parade was held in Jerusalem with a broader focus this year: Free the hostages

Michal Herzog meets with the Open House. Photo credit: President's Residence spokespeople
This year's parade comes against the background of the voices of the fight against anti-Israel movements, including LGBT movements around the world, and reflects the fact that the State of Israel is the only country in the Middle East that contains a wide variety of opinions and allows this type of parades to take place. The President's wife's speech to the representatives of the Open House: "We all want a better future, inclusive and equal, open and accepting."

The Pride and Tolerance Parade in Jerusalem was held today (Thursday) also calling for the return of the hostages; the title of the Parade was, “Born To Be Free.” The organizers of the parade, the Open House for Pride and Tolerance, said that the event will be more modest this year, and yet will have a broader agenda which will include the fight for the return of the 125 hostages who are still being held in Gaza.

This year’s parade is taking place against the background of the voices of the struggle against anti-Israel movements, including LGBT movements around the world, and reflects the fact that the State of Israel is the only country in the Middle East that contains a wide variety of opinions and allows this type of parades to take place. Many members of the LGBT movement in Israel have been very frustrated by the paradoxical liberal support they have seen around the world for terror organization such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad that have no respect for LGBT rights.

Although the parade in Tel Aviv was cancelled due to the difficult time the country is going through, the parade is being held this year in Jerusalem as a call for the return of the hostages. The families of the hostages, representatives of bereaved families and evacuated communities will also participate in the rally that will be held at the end of the parade. Along with the pride flags, yellow flags and the flags of the struggle for the return of the hostages will be waved, and the marchers will be given yellow identification bracelets.

The police announced that they will work to reduce as much as possible the damage to the fabric of life in the area, while maintaining the proper course of the march, in which many thousands are expected to participate, and clarified that anyone who tries to disrupt the proper course of the parade will be dealt with severely.

The President’s Residence reported that ahead of the Jerusalem Pride Parade, the wife of the President of Israel, Michal Herzog, hosted representatives from the association the Open House in Jerusalem for Pride and Tolerance, which is an active center of the LGBT community in Jerusalem. The association works to provide community and educational services alongside clinic and psychosocial services, for the LGBT community in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. She said to the Open House representatives: “Everyone in their own way, trying to make the country better.”

The meeting was also attended by Gilad Golan, the father of the late Major Sagi Golan who fell in the “Iron Swords” war, as well as Sagi’s partner, Omer Ohana. The two shared that this year their families and many of Sagi’s friends will participate in the parade in his memory. Many felt it was good to emphasize that members of the LGBT community play an important role in the IDF in fighting for the country like any Israeli.

During the meeting, the participants discussed the holding of the parade, which will be held this year with the theme of freedom in cooperation with the headquarters of the hostages in Jerusalem, and the importance of accepting the other.

The meeting was also attended by Open House Chairman Yonatan Valper, CEO Nili Mederer, and Tom Barkai, head of the headquarters of the families of the kidnapped and missing in Jerusalem, as well as  volunteers of the association.

Herzog opened her remarks: “Meetings of this type excite me greatly. This year’s parade and the theme of freedom at its center are your way to express solidarity, and show care – each from its own angle. There is not just one way to support and express the range of emotions we experience in relation to the difficult period. We all want a better future, inclusive and equal, open and accepting. We all wish for our country to be a better country, and thus, each in his own way, tries to make the change, and this is exactly what you are doing. Continue your important and meaningful work.’

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