Friday, June 12, 2015

Tens of thousands take part in Friday's Tel Aviv Gay Pride parade - Haaretz | Life for gays in the Israeli military just got easier - WP

Gay men from Russia pose for a photographers during the annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv

Gay men from Russia pose for a photographers during the annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, Israel, June 12, 2015. Photo by AP

Story image for gay parade tel aviv 2015 photos from Haaretz

Tens of thousands take part in Friday's Tel Aviv Gay Pride parade

Haaretz-3 hours ago
A man dances during the annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, Israel, June 12, 2015Photo by AP. Text size. Comments ... 12,2015 | 5:31 AM.
Gay Pride Parade draws 180000 to Tel Aviv
International-Jerusalem Post Israel News-4 hours ago

PHOTOS: Tel Aviv Pride 2013 |

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PHOTOS: Tel Aviv Pride 2013

Tens of thousands of people gathered Friday to celebrate LGBT Pride in Tel Aviv, Israel.

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June 07 2013 4:14 PM ET 


Israel is the only country in the Middle East where LGBT people can openly show affection, so it’s no surprise tens of thousands of people gather each year for the annual Pride celebration in Tel Aviv. 2013 festivities included

 the city’s 15th annual Pride Parade, musical performances, and speeches from public figures such as Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai, who lauded the city as the “most gay-friendly” in the world.

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Gay Pride revelers take to the streets in Tel Aviv

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Some 180,000 people marched through Tel Aviv’s streets Friday in the city’s 17th annual Gay Pride Parade, the nation’s largest and oldest gay pride event.
The parade, boasting trucks bearing DJs, dancers and drag performers, began at 11 a.m. local time as participants gathered at the city’s Meir Park. At noon, marchers began walking down some of the city’s busiest thoroughfares, ending at Charles Clore Park on the Mediterranean beach.
Of the estimated 180,000 participants, 30,000 are tourists, many of whom came to Israel to participate in the march, according to officials.
The event has become one of Tel Aviv’s most popular annual festivals. Streets and stores have been decorated with rainbow flags for days. Thousands of Israelis flocked to the city center to observe the parade, filling cafes and restaurants along the route to capacity.
“Welcome to all our guests from abroad to the gay-friendliest city in the world,” Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai declared at the event’s launch Friday morning.
“We’ve been through a lot,” he added. “In 17 years, we’ve achieved a different reality in this city, and also in Israel. I want to tell all the politicians, there is still a great deal of legislation that has to be passed to accept the gay community. We will continue to walk this path, and to support the pride parade.”
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The theme of this year’s parade was focused on transgender rights. Events like the parade are key to advancing recognition for the transgendered, Tel Aviv activist Elisha Alexander said earlier this week.
Elisha Alexander, a transgender activist from Tel Aviv (Courtesy Tova Shalmoni)
Elisha Alexander, a transgender activist from Tel Aviv (Courtesy Tova Shalmoni)
“As the parade approaches, more and more trans people are calling up to get help, to get support, so that’s what visibility does,” stated Alexander. “That’s the main goal of all these pride parades and things like that — it’s just to be visible, that we exist.
“I lived as a straight woman for 30 years,” Alexander added. “Most of the reason it took me so long was just because there was no visibility.”
Security was tight, with police deploying hundreds of officers and warning locals that no cars would be allowed to park along the parade route.
At a recent Gay Pride parade in Tel Aviv (Omer Messinger/Flash 90)
At a recent Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv (Omer Messinger/Flash 90)
Major arteries in the coastal metropolis were shut at intervals as the march passed through the city, including parts of Tchernichovsky Street, Bograshov, Hayarkon, Frishman, Marmorek, Arlozorov and the Herbert Samuel beachfront promenade.
This year’s celebration featured Eurovision song contest winner and LGBT rights representative Conchita Wurst, who was to perform at Charles Clore Park after the march.
Luke Tress contributed to this report.
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Gay Pride Parade draws 180,000 to Tel Aviv - Israel News

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Around 180,000 people came to party in central Tel Aviv on Friday for the annual Gay Pride Parade, and police were deployed in force to secure the event and redirect traffic in the notoriously congested city.
The march began at noon after a party at Gan Meir on King George Street. It then made its way down Bograshov Street to Ha-Yarkon Street, Frishman Street and then south on Herbert Samuel Boulevard along the seaside – ending at Charles Clore Park, where the party will carry on until nightfall.
Israel Police said that as of 11:30 a.m. there will be a number of roads shut down to traffic in the city. Bograshov Street will be closed in both directions from King George Street to Ben Yehuda Street. Marmorek Street will be closed from Ibn Gabirol Street to Rothschild Boulevard. Arlozorov Street will be closed from Ibn Gabirol to Hayarkon Street. Ben Yehuda Street will be closed entirely from Allenby Street to Dizengoff Street. Allenby will be closed from Moshavot Square to Herbert Samuel Boulevard. Roads will also be closed in Jaffa, including a large portion of Jerusalem Boulevard.

A street packed with people for the 2015 Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: Daniel J. Roth)

Tel Aviv police said parking will not be allowed along the parade route, which was enforced beginning at 7:00 a.m. Any cars parked on the route will be towed. 
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Over 100,000 at Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade, regions biggest

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JERUSALEM (AP) — Thousands of bare-chested muscular men, drag queens in heavy makeup and high heels, women in colorful balloon costumes and others partied at Tel Aviv's annual gay pride parade on Friday, the largest event of its kind in the region.
Well over 100,000 people were participating in the parade, police said, while Israeli media put the number at 180,000. The event also drew thousands of people from around the world.
Large sections of Tel Aviv were shut for traffic and loud music blasted along the parade's route. Streets were packed thick with people waving rainbow flags and dancing. The theme of this year's parade, which was the city's biggest ever, was "Tel Aviv loves all genders."
Among the visitors was Conchita Wurst, the bearded Austrian cross-dresser who won last year's Eurovision song contest.
"There are just beautiful people here," Wurst told Israel's Channel 2 TV.
Rafael Anibal from Madrid said it was an "amazing party."
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People participate the annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, June 12, 2015. Thousands …
"I have been to many gay pride parades around the world and this is one of the best," he added.
A man dressed in a big white bow tie and sleeveless vest, who gave his name as Matteo Zakari, visited from Poland. He said "the people are amazing, the weather is amazing, I love Tel Aviv. The music is some of the best in the world."
Israel has emerged as one of the world's most gay-friendly travel destinations in recent years, in sharp contrast to the rest of the Middle East where gay culture is not tolerated and gays are persecuted and even killed.
Across the rest of the Mideast, gay and lesbian relationships are mostly taboo. The pervasiveness of religion in everyday life, along with strict cultural norms, plays a major factor in that. Same-sex relations are punishable by death in Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.
Gays serve openly in Israel's military and parliament, and many popular artists and entertainers are gay. However, leaders of the gay community say Israel still has far to go in promoting equality.
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People watch from their roof top at the annual Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, June 12 …
There is no gay marriage in Israel officially, primarily because there is no civil marriage of any kind. All Jewish weddings must be conducted through the Jewish rabbinate, which considers homosexuality a sin and a violation of Jewish law. But the state recognizes same-sex couples who marry abroad.
Among most Palestinians, gays tend to be secretive about their social lives and some have crossed into Israel to live safely. In the West Bank, a 1951 Jordanian law banning homosexual acts remains in effect, as does a ban in Gaza passed by British authorities in 1936.
The only other parade in the region that comes close to the scale of the one in Tel Aviv is in the mainly-Muslim Turkey's largest city of Istanbul, where up to 70,000 people are estimated to have participated in the past two years.
Started a decade ago, the parades were initially small gatherings but are now bringing out tens of thousands of people. Turkey's Islamic-rooted government tolerates the festival as part the country's bid to join the European Union. The city also separately hosts a transgender pride parade.
Associated Press Writer Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, contributed to this report.
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Life for gays in the Israeli military just got easier

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JERUSALEM — The Israeli military has announced a small but dramatic policy change to help same-sex couples continue serving in the reserves with ease even after becoming parents.
The new policy ensures that same-sex couples will not have to simultaneously report for reserve duty, a requirement of most men and a few women after completing compulsory military service in their early twenties. Reserve duty continues even after parenthood, posing a parenting problem for same sex couples if both partners are called to serve at the same time.
Israel is one of some 30 countries that allow gays to openly serve in the military. It was revealed in February that one transgender officer, who joined the army as a woman, underwent a gender transformation while serving.
The new policy by the military to accommodate same-sex couples in the reserves capped a week of events and discussions in the country ahead of an annual gay pride parade — a megaparty that took place Friday in Tel Aviv, attracting some 100,000 revelers from Israel and around the world.
This year’s theme put the spotlight on supporting the transgender community; many were buoyed by former Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner’s transformation to Caitlyn. Jenner was invited to the party but did not attend. A Tel Aviv city council member who extended the invitation referred to her as an inspiration. One transgender celebrity who did appear and perform at Friday’s parade was the bearded, dress-wearing singer Conchita Wurst, the Austrian winner of last year’s Eurovision song contest.
However, as with many things in Israel, gay pride is not just about equal rights and fighting discrimination. It also leads to a complicated political discussion of the country’s actions vis-à-vis the Palestinians. Critics of Israel often dismiss positive steps in LGTB rights as "pinkwashing," meaning the cynical use of gay rights to distract from the Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinians. It’s a term frequently used by those advocating boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.
Despite that, the challenges faced by gay Israeli parents made international headlines earlier this year and garnered much sympathy here after several families were stranded in post-earthquake Nepal with newborn babies born to Indian surrogates there. Surrogacy is restricted in Israel to infertile heterosexual couples, so same-sex male couples must look elsewhere to countries that accommodate gays.
Amir Michaeli-Molian, one of the fathers stranded in Nepal, told The Washington Post at the time that although Israel is liberal when it comes to gays, having a family is another issue. The earthquake helped focus attention on some of the problems, giving same-sex couples hope for change.
The steps taken this week by the army could encourage that, too.
Ruth Eglash is a reporter for The Washington Post based in Jerusalem. She was formerly a reporter and senior editor at the Jerusalem Post and freelanced for international media.

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