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Why Tel Aviv Is One of the Most LGBTQ-Friendly Cities in the World

Tel Aviv is among the most popular holiday destinations for LGBTQ travellers, with the city home to a plethora of LGBTQ bars, gyms, beaches and hotels, as well the largest Pride parade in the Middle East and Asia.

The Culture of Pride celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

The Tel Aviv Pride parade

Tel Aviv Pride is one of Israel’s largest and wildest celebrations. The Pride parade takes place annually as part of Tel Aviv Pride Week, a series of events that brings the city’s LGBTQ community together to celebrate who they are in total freedom. While a 1979 protest held at Rabin Square is often regarded as the city’s first Pride event, Tel Aviv Love Parade in 1997 bears more similarities to the parade as we know it today.

Tel Aviv’s LGBTQ community comes together during Pride © Sebastian Scheiner / AP / Shutterstock

Over the past few years, the Tel Aviv Municipality has been making many efforts to cement Tel Aviv’s status as one of the world’s most gay-friendly cities. At Pride 2017, the city’s mayor, Ron Huldai, emphasised Tel Aviv’s liberal position, stating: “Tel Aviv Pride parade is not just a celebration, but also an important declaration of support. Tel Aviv, which has already been acknowledged as the world’s most gay-friendly city will continue to be a lighthouse city – spreading the values of freedom, tolerance and democracy to the world.”

The Pride festivities culminate in a parade through the city © galit seligmann / Alamy Stock Photo

LGBTQ rights in Israel

Although there is always much progress to be made, Israel’s stance on LGBTQ issues is considered the most tolerant in the Middle East. While same-sex marriages are not performed in the country, Israel recognises cohabitation between same-sex couples, as well as equal marriages performed elsewhere. Adoption by same-sex couples was legalised in 2008, while the Supreme Court of Israel allowed stepchild adoptions and limited co-guardianship rights for non-biological parents three years previous.

Israel’s stance on LGBTQ issues is considered the most tolerant in the Middle East © Jim Hollander / EPA-EFE / Shutterstock

A survey published the day before Tel Aviv’s 2017 Pride parade revealed that 79% of Israelis support same-sex marriage or civil unions. In another survey, this time conducted with gay travellers back in 2012 by American Airlines and GayCities.com, 43% voted Tel Aviv as the world’s best gay travel destination, way ahead of New York, Toronto, São Paulo and Madrid.

Tel Aviv is the host of the largest Pride parade in the Middle East and Asia © galit seligmann / Alamy Live News

The ultimate gay travel destination

The Tel Aviv Municipality is working hard to promote the city’s image as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world, and this can be reflected in many of its initiatives and public events. During Pride Week, in addition to filling the city streets with rainbow flags, the Tel Aviv Municipality lights up City Hall in rainbow stripes, reminding visitors and tourists of its support for the LGBTQ community.

Rainbow flags are dotted around the city during Pride © Abir Sultan / EPA / Shutterstock

It’s no surprise that Tel Aviv is such a popular LGBTQ travel destination, with gay hotels, bars, beaches and gyms located across the city. You can even book a Pride-oriented tour.

The parade attracts thousands of revellers every year © Abir Sultan / EPA / Shutterstock

Pride 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City and the beginnings of the international Pride movement. To celebrate, Culture Trip spotlights LGBTQ pioneers changing the landscape of love around the world. Welcome to The Culture of Pride.