Tens of thousands of people marched this Thursday, June 8, in the streets of Tel Aviv, for the largest pride march in the Middle East, against the backdrop of protests against the presence in the Israeli government of ministers hostile to LGBT+.
Men and women in colorful, sometimes eccentric, outfits take part in the rally, dancing on and around floats playing music on the seaside promenade of this city considered a rare oasis of tolerance in the region, according to AFP journalists on the spot.
"Showing that we are present"
This year, the municipality boasts of hosting "the largest Pride march" ever held in Israel on the 25th anniversary of the first edition, in 1998. Festivities will also continue Friday, the municipality said in a statement. The Israeli news site Ynet advances in the early evening a participation of "tens of thousands of people", expected to grow. In 2022, more than 200,000 people took part in this march, according to the town hall. "It's a very big party and I want to be here to support members of the [LGBT+] community, it's very important," said Elise Zzhdanova, 26, a bookseller in Tel Aviv.
For Yael Ben Yossef, 22, a psychosociology student in Beersheba (south), it is "particularly important" to march this year while openly homophobic ministers sit in Benjamin Netanyahu's government set up in December, one of the most right-wing in Israel's history. "We have to show that we are present, that we are not afraid and that they will not make us go into the closet," says the young woman wrapped in a rainbow flag. Itamar Ben Gvir, now minister of national security, was one of the organizers of the "parade of beasts" in Jerusalem in 2006, during which religious opponents of the march paraded with donkeys, associating homosexuals with animals.
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In particular, many Israelis fear that with the government's controversial judicial reform that limits the powers of the Supreme Court, safeguards will be broken and acquired rights will be called into question. The slogan "Democracy!" of opponents of the reform was chanted Thursday in the procession in Tel Aviv, AFP journalists noted. Israel is recognized as a progressive country in terms of visibility and equality for LGBT people. Same-sex marriage, without being illegal, is impossible because of the lack of an institution empowered to pronounce it, but the union between persons of the same sex is recognized if it was contracted abroad. "The most important thing now is to fight so that our rights are not taken away from us," says Yaël Ben Yossef.