Tel Aviv celebrates gay pride with huge parade

Tens of thousands of people participated in the annual Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade, an event that marked the conclusion of a weeklong festival dedicated to the LGBT community.

The June 8 festivities kicked off with performances and speeches at Gan Meir park, followed by a colorful procession of floats and revelers. The participants sang and danced all the way from the park, through Bugrashov, Ben Yehuda and Arlozorov streets, before joining a party on Gordon Beach. 

Israelis participate in the annual Gay Pride Parade along the streets of Tel Aviv. photo/ap-oded balilty

Mayor Ron Huldai, U.S. Ambassador Daniel Shapiro and other politicians and public figures attended. Shapiro, who wore a shirt with a rainbow flag, the symbol of the gay community, told Ynet that the United States supports the rights of the LGBT community in Israel and around the world.

May Peleg, a transgender woman, told Ynet that “Israel’s transgender community has been discriminated against all year, both by the gay and lesbian communities, and by the general public. We are only now starting to enjoy rights that gays and lesbians received 30 years ago,” she said.

Yuval Topper and Mattan Erez, the two first gay biological fathers in Israel, told Ynet: “We hope that our son can grow up in a better place than where we did,” adding that the Interior Ministry still refuses to recognize Erez as their son’s biological father.

Labor Party Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich addressed the crowd, saying, “I have been a supporter of this community for years. I support equality for all mankind, regardless of race, faith, sex or socioeconomic status.”

Shay Deutsch, chairman of the LGBT association in Israel, said that “despite the recognition by the media, the community still suffers from many problems such as cases of suicide, teens that are expelled from their homes and transgenders who cannot find work. The state still does not give us equal rights.” —