The “Europride” gay pride events in Europe attract some quarter of a million participants per year, and many nations compete yearly for the right to host the mass event. This year, Israel was closer than ever to having the honor – but in the end lost to Zurich, where
The city was chosen Sunday morning during the yearly convention of the European Pride Organizers Association (EPOA) in Madrid. Spokesperson for the Association of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexuals and Transgenders in Israel, Shai Doitch, told Ynet that some 30 organizations send representatives to the selection committee, and 13 attend the convention.
The vote is held by secret ballot, but it was revealed that in the close race, five representatives supported Tel Aviv while eight chose Switzerland. “The committee said at the end of the meeting that there had never been such a close race, and asked that we offer our candidacy again in the upcoming years. They are sure Europride will make it here,” Doitch said.
A member of the Tel Aviv city council and former chairman of the association, Itai Pinkas, pointed out two main causes that tipped the scales in favor of Zurich: The war in Lebanon, and the cancellation of the pride parades in Israel.
“The forced cancellation of the pride parade in Jerusalem caused a feeling of instability, despite the fact that Tel Aviv has no history of cancellations, and, from the point of view of the average European, Israel is a dangerous place. When the alternative is a place like Switzerland, in the center of Europe and with fantastic access to trains, they have an advantage,” he said.
Pinkas admitted there was a feeling of disappointment. “The aim was to bring the event to Tel Aviv as part of celebration of city’s 100 year anniversary. Of course we’ll have an alternate pride event. It’s a shame, because up until the war our situation was not bad. People really debated and didn’t vote us out lightly,” he said.
In contrast, Doitch, who was elected internal commissioner of the European organization, saw a positive side to the story too. “There is a lot of gain in this loss, since we achieved a respectable position. As an organization and community in Israel, we earned entrance into the European community,” he noted.
Tal Eitan contributed to the report.