Thousands of people took part in the Tel Aviv gay pride parade on Friday, held under heavy security. Several main roads in the city were blocked for traffic.
Hundreds of tourists participated in the parade, some of whom carried their own national flags. Eric Christiansen, a French tourist, told Ynet: "This is a wonderful sight and I hope it will be broadcast all over the world to show how much freedom and pluralism Israel has to offer."
Dancers, singers and speakers graced the stage of the main event at the Meir Park, including Opposition Chairwoman Tzipi Livni and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.
'Biggest parade in Tel Aviv's history' (Photo: Ofer Amram)
MK Tzipi Livni said: "There are still many teenagers who fear the price of freedom is the love from their parents if they come out to them. There are parents who are still prejudiced and unwilling to accept their children as they are."
Friday's parade was the biggest in Tel Aviv's history, the mayor's advisor on gay community affairs Yaniv Weizman said. He added that more than 100,000 people attended the march.
MK Nitzan Horowitz, who hosted a special committee for gay rights at the Knesset this week, said: "The MKs and rabbis who called the debate an abomination are abominable themselves and anyone who talks about diseases is sick himself."
Religious men also take part in parade (Photo: Ofer Amram)
Unlike previous years, there was no counter-protest by far-right activists. However, one unusual spectator was spotted in the crowd – atom spy Mordechai Vanunu, who refused to comment on his presence.
Among the marchers were also many religious men, some of whom were seen carrying Israeli and gay flags.
"In the community where I live I am forced to remain inside the closet, but I see no contradiction between my ideology and faith and my being gay. I am proud of being who I am just as I am proud to be a Zionist, a patriot and an IDF reserve combatant," a religious man from Samaria said.
Yoav Zitun contributed to this report