Rand 150,000 people celebrated this year’s Pride parade in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv, according to the city administration. With rainbow flags and colorful costumes, they gathered on the beach promenade on Thursday evening and roamed the streets exuberantly. They came together to demonstrate for equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer (LGBTQ) people.
The liberal coastal metropolis is considered the stronghold of the scene in the Middle East. The closing ceremony is planned for one day after the parade on Friday this year. Tens of thousands of people are again expected at the concert in the city park.
This year’s Pride celebrations come amid massive domestic tensions in Israel. For months, a judicial reform pushed by the right-wing religious government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been dividing large sections of society.
The LGBTQ community, for example, fears that the planned reform will worsen their rights. Several ministers in the government are openly homophobic. In particular, the strictly religious parties reject changes in the law in favor of non-heterosexual people. They see this as a violation of Jewish religious commandments.
It is the far-right government in Israel’s history. Thousands of people gather regularly to protest against the planned circumcision of the Supreme Court. Efforts to reach a compromise have so far not achieved a breakthrough.
In 2015, a strictly religious Jew stabbed a 16-year-old to death at the Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem. A court later sentenced the killer to life imprisonment plus 31 years.