Tens of thousands of people attended a Pride parade in Tel Aviv on Friday in one of the largest public gatherings held since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.
The vibrant parade and beach party are held on the seafront promenade in the Israeli city, a rare hub of gay culture in the conservative Middle East. Elsewhere in the region homosexuality is widely considered taboo and is outlawed in many countries.
Some 250,000 people attended the Tel Aviv parade honoring the LGBTQ community in 2019 before it was called off last year because of the pandemic.
“Pride events in Tel Aviv-Yafo are a long-standing tradition, centered on a message of equality, acceptance, and human and civil rights,” Mayor Ron Huldai said. “This year, more than ever, we will celebrate together, march together, and fight together for equality.”
Israel fully reopened this spring after carrying out one of the world’s most successful vaccination campaigns, but a recent outbreak driven by the more contagious Delta variant has raised concerns.
Authorities are once again requiring people to wear masks in indoor public places starting Friday, and are advising mask-wearing at large outdoor events like the Pride celebrations.
Several marchers said they were sad to have missed the parade last year.
“It is not just a celebration, it is also a demonstration for our rights, for our existence, so it feels really good to be here again to march with everyone,” said Noam Klar.
Nina Korolev said it was the first time she attended a Pride parade.
“It is so delicious, it is amazing,” she said. “I’m very proud that I can be here in a free country with free people together. All humans must have the same rights.”
Thousands of people marched through Jerusalem earlier this month in a much smaller Pride parade, celebrating LGBTQ rights in the conservative city amid heavy police security.
Pride events in Jerusalem, home to a large ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, tend to be more subdued. A radical ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed a 16-year-old girl to death at a Pride event in Jerusalem in 2015, an attack that was condemned across the political spectrum.
Police said they arrested a suspected attacker in Tel Aviv after tracking him ahead of the parade. The man in his 30s was found carrying nunchaku, an Asian martial arts weapon, as well as an electric shocker, chains and other “means of assault,” the police said.
The police later said they arrested a husband and wife who assaulted police officers while trying to enter the parade area so they could heckle the event.
Support for gay rights is increasingly widespread in Israel, where gay people serve openly in the military and parliament. Yet they haven’t attained full equality.
Jewish ultra-Orthodox parties, which wield significant influence over matters of religion and state, oppose homosexuality as a violation of religious law.
McDonald’s UAE warns against scam sites asking users for bank details
China’s Xi warns of ‘grim’ Taiwan situation in letter to opposition
Saudi Arabia’s Riyadh Season 2021 to launch on October 20
At least 50 killed in fighting for Yemen’s Marib: Military sources
London drivers feel the pinch as gas stations run dry
Europe7 days ago
Volcano erupts on Spain’s Atlantic island of La Palma; lava theatens homes
Other1 week ago
Ozone hole over Antarctica larger than usual, scientists say
U.S1 week ago
Florida surpasses 50K COVID deaths after battling Delta wave
Asia1 week ago
Idled taxis in Thailand go green with mini-gardens on car roofs
Australia & NZ1 week ago
Melbourne police use capsicum spray on Australian lockdown protesters
Other1 week ago
Threat of Catastrophic Supervolcano Eruptions
U.S1 week ago
Biden’s ‘summer of love’ with Europe hits an abrupt break-up
Europe1 week ago
Alert raised over quake surge around volcano in Spain’s Canary Islands