The 16th Pride Parade in Tel Aviv is now underway as tens of thousands of people - families, children and adults - filled Tel Aviv's Meir Park, carrying pride flags and sporting pride hairdos. "We'll march together for many years to come", promised Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.
Huldai spoke with Ynet, and said "The parade shows that we still need to work towards equality between people and bring to the awareness of those people who are still afraid and those who hold stereotypical views that these (the LGBT community) are all simply people.
This message in the center of this year's parade focuses on a call for equality. Organizers say some 120,000 people are expected to participate in the parade, including 25,000 tourists who arrived in the city especially for the occasion.
Ariel, a medical student from Jerusalem, explained his reasons for coming to the Tel Aviv Parade: "I came to the parade because my rights are not equal to the rights of the rest of the population.
"The parade is a happy and positive protest against the discrimination of the LGBT community that still persists today. However, we have made progress since the 1970s and those from the community live their lives in ease compared to those living in neighboring states."
Friday's events started at 10 am, with a happening at Meir Park. The parade kicks off at 1 pm, and will proceed through the city along Bograshov and Ben Yehuda Streets, through to Tel Aviv promenade, where the parade ends and the beach party begins.
This year, the parade will end in a new place – Charles Clore Park and the adjacent beach. Dana International, Mei Finegold, Ninet and many more will perform on the main stage at the park. The event will be hosted by international model and actress, Moran Atias.
The parade route, as well as other main streets in central Tel Aviv, will be closed to traffic from noon to 3:30 pm.
Dozens of people took part in a panel called “Pride Cocktail” held at Meir Park on Thursday, that dealt with the LGBT community's struggle for equal rights. Among the participants were Finance Minister Yair Lapid, Minister Yael German, Labor Chairman Isaac Herzog, Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon, and MKs Shelly Yachimovich, Ofer Shelah, and Nitzan Horowitz.
"I'm proud to be here because support for the gay community is part of what defines me as a person," Lapid said at the event.
Tel Aviv has been recently named as one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world by online magazine Business Insider, as well as one of the "14 places you should plan to visit In 2014."