Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai stressed Thursday that he would not let any outsiders break the city's tradition of holding an annual Pride Parade. He said this in response to Shas Chairman Eli Yishai's demands to have the parade, scheduled for Friday, cancelled.
Huldai said support of the gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders will only grow. "I greet the gay community on its holiday, that has been expanded to an entire month in the first Hebrew city's 100th year, and offers cultural and artistic events in the community.
"Tel Aviv – Jaffa, that last year opened the municipal community center for the city's gay community, will continue to provide a warm home and example of tolerance and openness that will influence and pave the way for other places in Israel," he said.
Certain that the bond with the gay community is only good for the city, Huldai said, "One of Tel Aviv – Jaffa's main characteristics is the diversity of different groups and communities that live in the city and feel at home in it.
"The values of tolerance and pluralism, that have been engraved in the first Hebrew city's banner for many years now, are not just nice words to boast of, but are a true belief that every group and community in the city should be given the place, space and option of expressing itself."
'Shame to the State'Regarding the letter sent to him by Interior Minister Yishai, head rabbis and other religions MKs, demanding the parade be canceled, Huldai stated unequivocally that he has no intention of backing down, and that the parade is an important part of the city's culture.
"The Tel Aviv – Jaffa municipality has been supporting the Pride Parade for over a decade. The Pride Parade was adopted in Tel Aviv – Jaffa as in many other cities around the world, and today it also attracts tourists that join the thousands of participants, who are not necessarily members of the community, but come to celebrate in a happy party that marches the city's streets proudly each year."
Itai Pinkas, a prominent member of the gay community and former city council member, generally ignores criticism against the parade. But this time, Pinkas could not contain his outrage. "Our community's parade and holiday will not be ruined by the group that signed that letter," he said.
"The problem is that this is the interior minister of the State of Israel, and such comments bring shame to the State. This is one of the State of Israel's last chances to seem like a sane place, a place where there are human rights and equality, and even with such an opportunity, a person with such a senior position in the government is trying to prove otherwise," he added.