Tens of thousands join Mideast's biggest gay pride fest

Agence France-Presse . Tel Aviv , Israel | Published: 19:32, Jun 14,2019

 
 

Tens of thousands of revellers lined the streets of Israel's seaside city of Tel Aviv on Friday for the largest gay pride event in the Middle East.

Men and women in colourful costumes, including several dressed as samba dancers, paraded through the streets on motorised floats or sashayed alongside.

One float depicted a gym, with musclebound young men in shorts, and another held drummers and dancers.

Loudspeakers blasted dance tunes and favourites from last month's Eurovision song contest, which was held in Tel Aviv.

With the temperature Friday at a balmy 28 degrees Celsius (82 Fahrenheit) clothing was for the most part minimal.

Rainbow flags of the LGBT movement fluttered in the Mediterranean breeze alongside those of Israel and the United States.

Downtown streets were closed to traffic for the afternoon and a police statement said that ‘hundreds’ of officers would secure the route of the parade.

Organisers had predicted a turnout of at least 250,000 but police did not immediately publish a crowd estimate.

The Tel Aviv municipality website said the parade would weave though the city during the afternoon and end at the seashore with a sunset beach party.

Israel has the most open attitude to homosexuality in the Middle East, with a large and influential gay community.

Last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the appointment of Israel's first openly gay cabinet minister.

But many analysts saw Amir Ohana's appointment as justice minister months ahead of September 17 elections as strictly politically motivated since he has expressed support for a proposal that would result in Netanyahu being granted immunity from prosecution.

Netanyahu faces possible indictment for corruption in the months ahead.

A 2015 gay pride parade in conservative Jerusalem ended in tragedy when an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man got among the marchers, stabbing a 16-year-old girl to death and wounding several others.

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