Each year for the last decade Tel Aviv’s Gay Pride Parade has marched through the streets of the Mediterranean-side city.
Last week, for the first time, it began at a new municipal center for Israel’s homosexual community.
Two days after the center opened at the site of a former elementary school, the day after the haredi Shas party unsuccessfully filed a complaint with Tel Aviv police to block the parade, hundreds of participants made the trek from the center to Meir Park, where an art exhibition staged by the center was held, then to Gordon Beach.
The parade, right, drew religious and right-wing protestors, including the Orthodox Jews, below, holding signs that declare, “Animals! You have nothing to be proud of, take your medication,” as well as supporters, such as a father and son, top, declaring acceptance of the son’s homosexuality.
Police reported brief altercations at the parade, but no injuries.
“This parade is a demonstration against those harming the freedom of expression,” declared Knesset member Zahava Gal-On, chairwoman of the Meretz Party. “We are struggling for equality and respect and we have a long way to go.”
Several politicians and public figures greeted the marchers. “You are my brothers and sisters and I love you,” said Tel Aviv City Councilwoman Yael Dayan.
The new Pride Center, sponsored by the Tel Aviv municipality, will host plays, conferences, a café and HIV/AIDS support groups. At the dedication ceremony, a mezuzah painted with the rainbow colors of the gay pride flag was affixed to the front doorpost.
“This center symbolizes the pluralism and tolerance that characterize Tel Aviv-Jaffa,” said Mayor Ron Huldai. “This house expresses Tel Aviv’s spirit of pluralism and the desire to respect every minority.”