Five gay couples wed Friday in a ceremonial marriage on Tel Aviv beach, at the culmination of the city's 11th annual Gay Pride Parade, which saw more than 20,000 people take to the streets to promote gay rights.
The ceremony, held at sundown after a boisterous disco on the sand, began with a serenade by gay pop star Ivri Lider as the three female and two male same-sex couples walked up to the Chuppah, the Jewish wedding altar.
The ceremony was performed according to Jewish marriage rites, with each couple exchanging rings and Hebrew vows before breaking the traditional glass as the crowd erupted in applause.
Nitzan Horowitz of Meretz, the Knesset's first openly gay parliamentarian, attended the wedding, along with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.
"I hope that from this day weddings like this can happen in every place in Israel and not just in Tel Aviv," Horowitz told Haaretz. "Weddings for everyone - man and woman, man and man, and woman and woman, and this will be the end of the monopoly of the ultra-Orthodox over our lives in Israel."
Israeli director Eytan Fox, whose movies "Walk on Water" and "The Bubble" deal with gay issues in Israel, was also there to mark the occasion.
"It's a very important and historic day," he said. "It's very exciting and in the end the good guys won."
The parade was sponsored by Tel Aviv municipality as part of the city's cetennial celebrations. The floats with their dancers, scantily clad youths and blasting pop music started out from Meir Park before winding their way through the city's streets to the beachfront.
A small group of right-wing and religious protesters demonstrated against the parade, holding up banners reading: "God hates debauchery."
Interior Minister Eli Yishai had called on Huldai and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to cancel the parade. On June 25, Jerusalem will host its own pride parade, an event which has in previous years sparked fierce opposition from Jewish and Muslim clerics and politicians.
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