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Tel Aviv Gay Pride parade is more popular than ever before

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Around 250,000 people participated in the Gay Pride Parade in Tel Aviv on June 8. (Miriam Alster/Flash90 Photo)

Over 250,000 people celebrated at Tel Aviv’s  20th Gay Pride Parade, an event that draws people from around the world to party at the Israeli beach city that has built an image of an oasis of tolerance for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

The turnout was the biggest ever in the parade’s history.

At least 30,000 foreign tourists attended the parade on June 8 Ha’aretz reported. The event, which topped last year’s overall attendance by  some 50,000, according to estimates, is held in congruence with LGBTQ Pride Month.

The parade featured Eurovision winner Netta, and also featured a tribute to longtime LGBTQ activists, as well as a performance by the Israeli-Arab diva Nasreen Qadri.

Its official ambassador was Andy Cohen, the American TV producer known for producing the Real Housewives franchise.

“I have been struck by how incredible it is not only to be here, but as a proud gay Jewish man surrounded by my people,” he said.

READ: CANADA’S FIRST LGBTQ JEWISH SUMMER CAMP TO OPEN THIS SUMMER

Cordelia Lange of Germany told Ha’aretz that Tel Aviv is “a very vibrant city, it’s a city that embraces everything connected to gays, lesbians and LGBT.”

In much of the Middle East, LGBTQ culture – if legally tolerated–  is relegated to societal sidelines.

During last Friday’s celebrations, a group of pro-Palestinian activists gathered on the sidelines of the parade to protest the “pinkwashing” of Israel’s LGBT community.

Israeli activists carrying black and pink signs accused the government of highlighting its relatively pro-gay stance compared to its neighbours in a bid to downplay its alleged rights abuses against Palestinians.

Israel’s foreign ministry highlights Tel Aviv’s status as one of the world’s most gay-
friendly cities in its promotional material.