LGBT community supports canceling Tel Aviv gay pride parade

With the war in Gaza raging on and over 100 hostages still held by Hamas, the LGBT community has decided to stand by Tel Aviv mayor's decision to cancel this year's gay pride parade in favor of a rally

Yael Ciechanover, Hadar Gil-Ad|
In the LGBTQ+ community, there has been widespread support for the decision by Ron Huldai, mayor of Tel Aviv, to replace this year's Pride Parade with a rally themed "Pride, Hope and Freedom." This change follows the scaling down of traditional Purim and Independence Day celebrations in the city, amid ongoing war and the hostages still held in Gaza.
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מצעד הגאווה בתל אביב
מצעד הגאווה בתל אביב
Last year's parade
(Photo: Yair Sagi)
Eliav Batito, a prominent figure in the LGBTQ+ nightlife scene and a regular parade leader, agrees with the decision. "A few weeks ago, we realized that the war would likely extend into June. It became apparent to everyone involved in nightlife that we couldn't proceed with the usual march. We needed a different approach nationwide," he says.
"The LGBTQ+ community is an integral part of the broader Israeli population, and this war has showcased our widespread involvement and leadership across various sectors – from combat and rescue operations to advocacy. With community members both fallen and actively fighting, we cannot in good conscience proceed with a festive and colorful parade as in previous years. Nonetheless, it is crucial to hold the planned rally to affirm that now, more than ever, our community deserves full and complete equal rights, particularly after the events of this past year. This is an opportunity for Israel to demonstrate its role as a beacon of democracy and liberal values in the Middle East, and to push forward with legislation benefiting the LGBTQ+ community. I urge everyone to participate in this rally," he adds.
The LGBTQ+ youth organization "Iggy" also supports the city's decision. "This year has been tough and atypical. The Tel Aviv Municipality made the right call in altering the parade's format. However, we must remember that the fight for equal rights is far from over. This past year has seen a sharp rise in homophobic rhetoric and actions, coupled with budget cuts aimed at fostering hatred and ignorance. The rally in Tel Aviv and Pride Parades across the country are crucial to remind us that only a truly egalitarian state can serve as a real home for its citizens."
Typically, the parade infuses the city with vibrant Pride colors throughout most of June, featuring large-scale productions, performances and attracting numerous tourists. This year, however, the cancellation of the parade is expected to deal a significant economic blow to the nightlife industry. Batito noted that during the Pride month, approximately 30% of revenue is derived from targeted tourism. "The production sector has been in a severe crisis for the past seven months, affecting not just the LGBTQ+ community but the general populace as well. We're seeing no tourists, and frankly, who feels like partying?" he says.
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סרן (מיל׳) שגיא גולן ז"ל ובן זוגו עומר
סרן (מיל׳) שגיא גולן ז"ל ובן זוגו עומר
Major (Res.) Sagi Golan and his partner, Omer Ohana
Batito added: "We're facing profit declines by tens of percentages across all productions, and this crisis will persist even post-war. Many productions will not survive; international operations will scale down. The parade usually leads to a profitable month, supporting an entire industry that benefits over time. This year presents an opportunity for a significant show of strength, and I call on everyone to attend the rally. As someone involved in planning discussions, I can confirm that we are working sensitively and in cooperation with the families of the captives. We have another meeting scheduled for this coming Sunday on this matter."
Omer Ohana, partner of Major (Res.) Sagi Golan, who fell in the battle at Kibbutz Be'eri, says cancelling the parade is the correct decision. "I read about the decision to cancel the Tel Aviv Pride Parade and the reactions to it. Canceling the celebrations in Tel Aviv this year is the correct decision; during these toughest of days, there is nothing to celebrate. Yet, there is still much to fight for, and securing our place as equals in society remains the central aim of Pride events," he said.
"I will also be at the rally in Tel Aviv with the families of the hostages and in Jerusalem, where the parade is a protest," Ohana continued. "I invite all reservists, soldiers and volunteers who fought for Israel, both LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+, to march with me in Jerusalem on May 30 in memory of Sagi. Those who battle for our nation and contribute deserve a better state in return. Someone who fights as an equal should not return home to find they are no longer treated as such. And that is what the parade advocates for –equality, justice."
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