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Known as the gay capital of the Middle East, the coastal city of Tel Aviv celebrates Israel’s LGBTQ community in Tel Aviv Pride, a week-long series of unmissable events.
The first celebratory Pride Parade took place in 1993, more than two decades after the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village, New York, marking a monumental turning point in LGBTQ rights. Since then, the week-long Tel Aviv Pride celebration has been organising concerts, film screenings and street parties, and draws one of the biggest crowds in the world.
“As a religious country, Israel’s population is conservative about sexuality, adding further difficulties to people coming out as gay, especially those living in religious sects and in Jerusalem,” explains Slav Leibin, founder of Rainbow Tour TLV. However, he recognises that there has been a growing acceptance of the LGBTQ community in recent years.
In 1974, a protest known as the ‘Masks Parade’ took place in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, the largest public square in the city. During the demonstration, 20 gay men and one heterosexual woman donned masks and marched for the rights of the homosexual community. This triggered a series of events that led to a revolutionary decision in 1988 to overturn the ban on same-sex acts in Israel.
Over the following three decades, a number of new laws came into effect further protecting the rights of the LGBTQ community. These included the 1993 act promising equality in the recruitment of LGBTQ people into the army; the 2000 Supreme Court ruling that allows same-sex couples to be officially recognised as adoptive parents; and from 2006, the registration of marriages for gay couples performed abroad.
The first March for Pride and Tolerance in Jerusalem was held in 2002, and today, this march is one of the most prominent civil-rights events in the city. During the march, thousands take to the streets, including religious members of the LGBTQ community, in an act of solidarity with the continued fight for equal rights and security.
Tel Aviv Pride attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the city in a week-long celebration of the flourishing LGBTQ community in Israel and abroad.
June 5–15: TLVFest (LGBTQ Film Festival)
The annual TLVFest at the Tel Aviv Cinematheque has a schedule of international LGBTQ-focussed films. The festival also hosts special talks with Israeli and international filmmakers, panel discussions and other film-related events.
June 10–18: Tel Aviv Pride 2019 Gay Bus
A series of Gay Bus tours across Israel will be run by Outstanding Travel in celebration of Tel Aviv Pride, including visits to Tel Aviv and Jaffa, Jerusalem, Masada and the Dead Sea and the biblical Galilee.
All week: club nights and street parties
The city’s clubs, bars and streets host parties every night of the week. A special TLV19 wristband can be worn to gain access to a choice of three or five parties, and there is also a VIP option with additional benefits. Wristbands can be collected at the Diesel store on Shenkin Street during Pride Week.
Daily: Rainbow Tour TLV Pride Edition
Rainbow Tour TLV was launched with a mission to uncover the stories and secrets of the LGBTQ community in Tel Aviv. Its two-hour Pride Tour takes place throughout Pride Week, and includes historical information, a snapshot of the LGBTQ scene and a visit to a number of pride-related sites. Tickets can be purchased online.
June 12–15: Forever Tel Aviv
The annual Forever Tel Aviv event hosts five parties over four days of Pride Week: the ‘Pervert’ party at Haoman 17; a daytime event at Shefayim Water Park; the ‘We’ Party at Haoman 17; the ‘Forever Massive Party’ at the Tel Aviv Convention Center; and the ‘Forever Hamsa’ party at Haoman 17. Two bracelet packages are available here.
June 14: Pride Parade
As the main draw and the closing event of Tel Aviv Pride, this parade draws hundreds of thousands of people. More than 250,000 people are expected to attend this year’s event, with the party kicking off at 10am with drag shows, music and speeches. Commencing from the intersection of Ben Tsiyon Boulevard and Melchett Street, the parade heads towards Bograshov Street, Ben Yehuda Street and on to the Herbert Samuel Promenade, before reaching the main party at Charles Clore Park at 2pm. DJs and food stands add to the carnival atmosphere and the fun goes on well into the evening.
June 15: Offer Nissim Live
The day after the Pride Parade, celebrated Israeli DJ and 1998 Eurovision winner Offer Nissim hosts a live concert to a crowd of thousands. Usually held at the International Convention Center, previous events have featured special guests including prominent singer Maya Simantov.
The 2019 Pride Week in Tel Aviv takes place from 9 to 16 June 2019.