Some 250,000 people marched in the Tel Aviv Pride Parade on Friday, calling for full and equal rights for the LGBTQ community in Israel.
The parade, the biggest the city has seen in terms of participants and floats, began at 12 P.M. in the center of the city on Ben Tzion Boulevard. Its route will follow the Tel Aviv beach promenade down to Charles Clore Park at the city's southern tip, where the main Pride party will take place.
This year's parade is calling for full and equal rights for the LGBTQ community in Israel. "We are marching today in the biggest and most consistent protest in Israel, demanding equal rights so that every person can write their own story," said Ohad Hizki, the head of the Association for LGBTQ Equality in Israel.
Hizki added that the gay community is inseparable from the social fabric of Israel and cannot be ignored: "We've heard enough talk and harassment, it's time for action."
For the first time in four years, political figures took the stage to speak at the event before the parade, with Knesset members and party heads appearingbeside celebrities and television personalities.
Meretz Chairwoman Tamar Zandberg, Shelly Yacimovich of the Labor Party, as well as Kahol Lavan's Idan Roll and Eitan Ginzburg, gave speeches. Likud lawmaker and Justice Minister Amir Ohana, who was booed last week at the Jerusalem Pride Parade, also attended.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai said that he was proud to partake in the 21st Tel Aviv Pride Parade. "Each one of us deserves to raise our voice and say that after the long way we've already come there is much much more work to do," he said. "I promise you that we won't slow down and we won't give up and we will continue struggling until we see full equality in Israel! Happy Pride!"
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The Tel Aviv city council member in charge of LGBT affairs, Etai Pinkas, told Haaretz, "We're here to celebrate our achievements and who we are, but we're also here to shout that we're tired of being outside the law and we will keep talking, struggling and fighting until we receive the equality and justice we deserve, just like anyone else."
Fourteen floats are accompanying the marchers down the promenade loaded with DJs and dancers from the most popular gay production companies in Tel Aviv.
The parade will culminate in a massive beachside party at Charles Clore Park at the end of the parade route. TV personality Assi Azar will host the event on the main stage, which will include performances by Israeli musicians Miri Mesika, Har'el Skaat, Ran Danker, Maya Bouskilla, Shefita, Sharif and more – including Maor Edri and Carakukly with this year's official Pride song, "Mi Mehapes Oti"