TEL AVIV Ã¢â‚¬â€ Tens of thousands of Israelis turned out for Tel Aviv’s annual gay pride parade on Friday, dancing and waving flags in a colourful procession through the sizzling streets of the beachside city.
Drag queens, civil rights activists and scantily clad gay and straight couples waved Israeli and rainbow flags in the scorching heat as they made their way to a beach party to the thumping of dance music.
Israeli media said some 100,000 people took part in the event, making it the country’s largest ever gay pride parade.
A small group of activists waving red flags tried to broaden the message, calling for greater equality for all Israeli communities, including its Arab minority, which makes up nearly 20 percent of the population.
The heart of Israel’s cultural life and a bastion of secularism, Tel Aviv has been hosting the annual parade for the past decade with relatively few objections from the country’s religious community, unlike similar events in Jerusalem which saw violence and even one stabbing.
Israel is widely seen as having liberal gay rights policies, despite the hostility shown towards homosexuals, particularly men, from the ultra-orthodox Jewish community.
Israel repealed a ban on consensual same-sex sexual acts in 1988.