Thousands Turn Out for Tel Aviv's Annual Gay Pride Parade

Speaking at start of event, Livni tells crowd: We are here to fight against any phenomenon of hate and to fight for Israel's values.

Thousands of people flooded the streets of Tel Aviv on Friday as the city marked the end of Gay Pride Week with its annual pride parade - an extravaganza of floats, live music and partying on the beach.

More than 5,000 tourists from around the world arrived in Israel to join the celebrations titled "It's good to be gay – marching for social equality."

Firday's events kicked off with a fair at Meir Park, where opposition leader Tzipi Livni, former minister Isaac Herzog, and Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz spoke.

All of Israel's leaders and political parties are obligated to the struggle for equality for all people, Livni said.

"I have come to say that being part of the gay community, to be gay or lesbian or any other member of the community, is not a political choice as is the choice to protect the gay community and its right for social equality," Livni said, adding that "we are here to fight together against any phenomenon of hate, to fight for Israel's values."

Israel's only openly gay parliamentarian, Nitzan Horowitz, lashed out at protests against the pride parade. "Those who speak of abomination, those in United Torah Judaism and the National Union, the abomination is there's, and he who speaks about illness, he is the sick one."

"I remember perfectly well a time at which I could I only dream of being at such an event, to be who I am without feeling ashamed. I was even scared of dreaming. But we have managed to come out of the closet together. Thousands of Israelis are now at home and secretly wishing that they could be here, but wouldnt dream of actually doing it," Horowitz added.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and city council members Yael Dayan and Yaniv Weizman also spoke. The fair featured drag queens and music provided by disc jockeys.

The paraded ended at Gordon beach with a giant party featuring Israeli and foreign performers.

The parade disrupted traffic in the center of the city, due to a number of street closures.

Sara Miller