Michaela Jae Rodriguez
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Tel Aviv Pride Sees Record Turnout

Tel Aviv Pride

Tel Aviv’s 20th annual Pride parade, held Friday, was the biggest celebration in the event’s history, drawing more than 250,000 people.

In addition to the parade’s anniversary, participants and attendees were observing two other milestones – the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Gay Center in Tel Aviv and the 70th anniversary of the modern nation of Israel, The Jerusalem Post reports.

“I am proud to stand here before you,” Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai told the crowd, according to the Post. “I remember how it was 20 years ago when we started this parade, and I am thrilled to see the wide audience here in the street, the atmosphere and the freedom that is felt here.

“We have marched for 20 years and we have made a lot of progress, but we still have a way to go ... we will walk together and we will break down the barriers of hate, of separation [and] of legislation, and we will reach a situation where – in the free and sovereign State of Israel – every human being will be equal.”

The crowd was an international one. Tel Aviv is “a very vibrant city, it’s a city that embraces everything connected to gays, lesbians, and LGBT, and I think it’s a combination of city at the beach and good vibes,” Cordelia Lange told the Associated Press.

“With all these flags, I already feel at home,” Jimmy Chan, 39, from China, told The Times of Israel. “Seeing this parade in such a religious country makes you feel more connected as a community.”

TV host Andy Cohen traveled from the U.S. to serve as international ambassador for the parade, and Netta Barzilai, the Israeli who won the recent Eurovision song contest, performed on the main stage at the event, the Times reports.

Not all attendees saw cause for celebration, however. A contingent of pro-Palestinian Israelis protested the parade as “pinkwashing,” according to the Times.

“Israeli activists carrying black and pink signs accused the government of highlighting its relatively pro-gay stance compared to its neighbors in a bid to downplay its alleged rights abuses against Palestinians,” the paper notes.

Tags: Pride, Israel

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