Thousands of Israelis take to the streets to celebrate gay pride in Tel Aviv

Thousands took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Friday as the city celebrated the culmination of Gay Pride Week with its annual pride parade.

Organizers estimated that more than 70,000 people took part in the annual event, and an aide to the city’s mayor Ron Huldai said it was by far the largest ever.

Nitzan Horowitz, a gay member of parliament, told the crowd, “We will expand the struggle so that anybody who wants to live his or her life on their own path, can do that without fear of being cursed or hit in the street, without fearing being thrown out of their home, and with the fear of being harassed at work.”

Tel Aviv’s pride parade is a stark contrast to the decidedly political Jerusalem event, which has seen violence in recent years. Tel Aviv is regarded as secular, and more open-minded.

“It’s a very strong community here, a comfortable arena for the gay community. Two men walking hand in hand is a very normal thing,” said Tel Aviv’s deputy mayor, Asaf Zamir.

We really are a gay city. There are no special gay areas – if you are gay or lesbian, you are welcome everywhere,” explained Shai Doitsch, spokesman for Israel’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Association.

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