(JNS.org) Hundreds of thousands of Israelis and tourists turned out for Tel Aviv’s 2015 gay pride parade on Friday.
The parade began around noon Tel Aviv time and marched from the city’s Meir Park down to Charles Clore Park along the Mediterranean. It was estimated that around 180,000 people turned out, with about 30,000 tourists.
“Welcome to all our guests from abroad to the gay-friendliest city in the world,” Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai declared at the launch of the parade.
The Tel Aviv parade is Israel’s largest gay pride event as well as the largest of its kind in the Middle East, a region where homosexuals and transgendered people face brutal repression and human rights abuses.
This year’s parade focused on the promotion of the rights of the transgendered community.
“As the parade approaches, more and more trans people are calling up to get help, to get support, so that’s what visibility does,” Tel Aviv transgender activist Elisha Alexander said in the lead-up to the parade, the Times of Israel reported. “That’s the main goal of all these pride parades and things like that—it’s just to be visible, that we exist.