Record Number of Israeli Locales to Hold Gay Pride Events for the First Time

'This isn't just a celebration, but a call for equality. It’s an issue for Israelis from all parts of the country,' says CEO of LGBT rights organization

Gay pride in Jerusalem, 2018.
Olivier Fitoussi

Gay pride events in Israel will be held this year in 12 locales that have never held them before, the Aguda – Israel’s LGBT Task Force announced Tuesday, setting new a record following a year that has seen mass protests led by Israel's LGBT community, calling for equality.

Pride events are slated to be held in Tiberias, Beit Shemesh, Zichron Yaakov, Ramat Gan, Ra’anana, Petah Tikva, the Jordan Valley, Pardes Hannah, Netanya, Yavne and Kiryat Bialik, with most of the events scheduled for various dates in June.

People dance during the annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, June 3, 2016.
Oded Balilty / AP

There will also be pride parades in cities that have held them previously – Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Kfar Sava, Rishon Letzion, Rehovot, Haifa, Be’er Sheva and Ashdod. In Tel Aviv there will be some 40 different pride events over the coming month, including a mass wedding. There will also be dozens of pride events at universities and colleges throughout the country.

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According to Ohad Hizki, CEO of the Aguda, “The many pride events prove that LGBT people can be found everywhere. This isn't just a celebration, but an enhanced call for equality. It’s not an issue just for LGBT people in Tel Aviv, but for Israelis from all parts of the country and all strata of society.

"After the historic protest last year we are continuing to struggle for full equal rights for all human beings. Most of the community’s rights were received from the Supreme Court, that maligned authoritywhich is under heavy attack. Our struggle for equality is also a struggle for the court, which protects individual rights in the State of Israel.”

The events in Tel Aviv are being held under the slogan, “The Struggle Continues.” The first national conference of the gay community will convene and there will be an education and health conference, performances and community activities all over the city.

Etai Pinkas Arad, who holds the pride portfolio on the Tel Aviv City Council, said, “The pride events this year are of a more protesting character, as is fitting less than a year after the large protest for equality that brought hundreds of thousands of people out to the streets, topped by the first LGBT strike in Israel.

The community demands equality now, and the pride events will give broad expression to this demand, as well as deal with important issues within the community.

“We are expecting a record number of attendees at pride events this year, both locals and tourists, because of the positive influence of Eurovision, among other things,” he said. “And above all we are reminding the government that the community isn’t just an Israeli showcase, that citizens deserve equality in law, policy, resources and daily life.”

Avihu Mezan, director of the Tel Aviv Municipal LGBT Community Center, added that “Along with the big celebration we are seeking to convey a clear message and an uncompromising demand for security for members of the community, appropriate services, education toward tolerance, equality under the law and the allocation of resources.”