Israel: Tel Aviv pride parade draws 100,000-strong crowd

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Over 100,000 people attended Tel Aviv pride today, as the week-long festival reached its peak.

The annual pride festival is the largest pride celebration in the Middle East, with police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirming over 100,000 attendees.

Israel: Tel Aviv pride parade draws 100,000-strong crowd(Photos: Twitter)

The midday parade set off through the city centre, along to Charles Clore beach in the south.

Israel: Tel Aviv pride parade draws 100,000-strong crowd

Speaking before the parade, Government Minister Yair Lapid said: “Support for the gay community and its rights is part of what defines me as a person.

“I’m not doing it for you, I’m doing it for myself. As long as the gay community doesn’t have all its rights, it means I’m still not living in the country I want to live in.”

Israel: Tel Aviv pride parade draws 100,000-strong crowd

The Municipal building has been lit up with an array of rainbow-coloured lights for the duration of the festival, while the US Embassy faced a backlash for flying a rainbow flag.

Israel: Tel Aviv pride parade draws 100,000-strong crowd

Tel Aviv is considered one of Israel’s more progressive cities, compared to the more conservative Jerusalem, which holds a smaller pride.

Controversy arose at the festival yesterday, when the music video by trans Eurovision winner Dana International was pulled offline.

The video, intended to promote the pride, featured the star dancing in a synagogue with religious children present, but was pulled after the family of a young person said they did not give their permission to be featured in the video.

Earlier this month, Israel’s Justice Minister Tzipi Livni officiated a gay wedding, despite same-sex marriage not being legal in the country.

She said: “At the ceremony, I said that the government cannot give out licenses for love.

“No power in the world can veto love or stand in the way of a couple that is in love and wants a life together.”

Same-sex marriages are recognised in Israel, but must be conducted overseas as only the religious authorities: Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Druze can perform marriages, and none offer gay couples the chance to marry.

Like mixed faith straight couples, gay couples must marry in another country such as France or Canada, but once they do, they are recognised as a married couple in the Jewish state.

The Israeli Parliament has repeatedly voted against introducing civil marriage for gay and straight couples.