(JNS.org) An estimated 200,000 people participated in Tel Aviv’s annual gay pride parade Friday, including some 30,000 foreign tourists.
This year’s event—which celebrated the theme of “bisexual visibility”—was the 19th gay pride parade held in the seaside Israeli metropolis and, according to the Tel Aviv-Jaffa Municipality, was the largest event of its kind ever held in the Middle East and Asia.
“Tel Aviv Pride Parade is not just a celebration, but also an important declaration of support,” Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said, adding, “Tel Aviv, which has already been acknowledged as the world’s ‘most gay-friendly city,’ will continue to be a light-house city, spreading the values of freedom, tolerance and democracy to the world.”
American blogger Perez Hilton, who served as international ambassador for this year’s parade, said, “With all the awful things happening to gay, lesbian and transgender people all over the world, I am so happy to be in a place that is so welcoming.”
Ahead of this year’s parade, a survey commissioned by the religious pluralism organization Hiddush found that Israeli public support for same-sex marriage is at a record high 79 percent, up from 53 percent in 2009.
Jerusalem’s gay pride parade is scheduled for later in June, and pride parades in Be’er Sheva and Haifa will take place in August.