TEL AVIV – Tens of thousands of people celebrated Tel Aviv Pride on Friday, the most popular LGBT march in the Middle East.
A crowd of around 250,000 filled the city with a festive atmosphere in an explosion of bright colors and rainbow flags.
The streets were filled with music and dancing on the sunny and warm day, with people of all ages, some wearing swimsuits or costumes, celebrating diversity.
Unlike Jerusalem Pride, which was held last week and more marked by political demands for LGBT rights in the conservative Holy City, the Tel Aviv parade embodied the festive spirit of a liberal and secular city, considered “the Israeli bubble.”
“We defend peace and equality for our people, including LGTB, and ask to change the laws that discriminate against this group and any other minority in Israel,” Eli Gozansky told EFE as he marched through the streets.
He said that the event is not just a party, “but it should mean the beginning of a struggle against the right-wing government” of the country.
In the parade, which this year celebrated its twenty-first anniversary, a number of people were seen wearing religious clothing and flags of the right-wing party Likud, led by acting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who recently appointed Amir Ohana, the first openly gay member, as Minister of Justice.
“It is a privilege to be here, we must defend our rights and accept the whole world,” Eliyah Skital, who marched with a kippa (Jewish skullcap) on his head, told Efe.
“We can combine both,” he added and continued that being gay and Jewish are not incompatible, despite the rejection of the LGBT community by a large part of the Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish branches in the country.
People from all over Israel were joined by a number of foreigners at the march, which annually involves around 250,000 people, and looked likely to extend the party until dusk.
Thijs Knoeff, a young Dutchman, traveled from his country to attend the parade, where he told Efe he was pleased by “the good vibrations” at the march.
“There are many gay parties in the Netherlands, but Tel Aviv is crazy,” he added.