Estimated 10,000 people participate as police hold handful of anti-gay protesters at bay behind barricades
TEL AVIV Thousands of gays, lesbians and activists participated in the annual Gay Pride parade and beach bash held Friday, June 8, in Tel Aviv, according to news reports published online this week by AFP.
The parade route started at Rabin Square near the center of the city and participants walked and danced to a strip of downtown Mediterranean beach to hear DJs, musical acts, performance artists and local singing stars.
Police estimated that about 10,000 people attended, and no serious incidents were reported despite threats from right wing and religious opponents to disrupt the event. The event has been organized by the Tel Aviv municipality and held there in the liberal city since 1998.
A handful of opponents, kept behind police barricades, hurled insults at the participants walking past. But those in the parade remained largely oblivious to the protesters.
The parade came two days after parliament passed, in a preliminary reading, a bill that would allow Jerusalem municipality to ban such parades that would “hurt public order, public feelings or for religious reasons.”
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, one of whose daughters is openly lesbian, is opposed to the initiative. The measure would have to pass three more readings to become law.
Last year, the World Pride parade planned to take place in Jerusalem was cancelled after many delays and violent protests by ultra-Orthodox Jews and denunciations by other religious leaders. Instead, a gay Pride celebration was held later under tight security at a stadium.
During a 2005 gay Pride event in the Jerusalem, an ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed and wounded three participants. He was later jailed for 12 years.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, June 15, 2007.