Gay Activists May Transform Tel Aviv Pride Parade Into Demonstration

Community livid over $3 million gay tourism campaign, while grass-root organizations remain underfunded.

Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior
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An Israeli with a rainbow-colored flag draped around his shoulders attends the annual gay pride parade in Tel Aviv on June 12, 2015.
An Israeli with a rainbow-colored flag draped around his shoulders attends the annual gay pride parade in Tel Aviv on June 12, 2015.Credit: AFP
Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior

This year’s Gay Pride Parade could become a protest event, leaders of the gay community said Monday. Speaking at a press conference at the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender center in Tel Aviv’s Meir Park, Israel National LGBT Task Force co-chair Imri Kalman presented a list of demands and called on the prime minister and finance minister to meet with members of the community. Their main demand is to allocate to LGBT organizations a sum matching the 11 million shekels (nearly $3 million) invested in a campaign to promote gay tourism ahead of the parade in Tel Aviv, scheduled for June 3.

Tel Aviv city councilors Efrat Tolkowsky (Meretz) and Yaniv Waizman (Rov Ha’Ir – the Young Faction) said the municipality, which organizes the event, will act in accordance with the gay community’s decision.

“The gay community in Israel is furious,” Kalman said. “Many communities throughout the world celebrated many achievements this year. The gay community in Israel ended a hard and bloody year without any achievements.”

Kalman said funding for the tourism campaign was 10 times greater than funding for all the gay organizations in the country for a whole year. He added that in the coming weeks the gay organizations will examine various possibilities to attune the community’s message to its mood. “We would not want headlines in the international press that the parade was called off. If anyone has any doubts, the gay community has no intention of sitting at home on June 3.”

LGBT Task Force co-chairwoman Chen Arieli said: “Our demand is not to take money away from the tourism budget, but to receive funding from other ministries. Many promises stayed in the air and if our demands are not met, the time will have come to go back to a parade that is essentially a demand for rights and recognition.”

A simulated image of the plane promoting Tel Aviv Pride 2016.Credit: Facebook screenshot

In addition to the funding demand, the list of demands includes public support by the cabinet for equal rights for the LGBT community, including legislation; formulation of a comprehensive plan to deal with the community’s needs and a timetable for its implementation; full equality in accessibility to surrogacy and adoption in Israel and abroad; recognition of the right of a non-Israeli partner of an Israeli to receive citizenship; support for transgender individuals and gay youth at risk; and a ban on “conversion treatments” of minors and full equality for gay Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

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