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Copyright © 2019 The American Israel Public Affairs Committee

Israel Hosts Middle East’s Largest Pride Parade

Today, Israel hosted the annual Pride Parade in Tel Aviv—the largest such event in the Middle East. Over the past 50 years, Israel has emerged as a world leader in protecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community. Israel’s citizens and government work in concert to ensure equality and inclusion of the LGBTQ community in all aspects of society.

Tel Aviv Pride brings together over 250,000 people from around the world. (AP/ Sebastian Scheiner)

Israel’s pride parades enjoy significant support.

  • Each year, Israel hosts more than 250,000 people from around the world for “Tel Aviv Pride,” the largest LGBTQ pride parade in the region.

  • Tel Aviv Pride held its inaugural parade in 1997. The event has since grown from a gathering of activists to a significant celebration of Israel’s LGBTQ community.

  • This year, the Jerusalem Pride parade attracted more than 10,000 people. Pride events are held throughout Israel, including in 12 new towns this year. People of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities are expected to attend the events.

For decades, Israel has pioneered LGBTQ rights.

  • Since 1963, the protection and equal treatment of the LGBTQ community has been secured in Israel through court decisions and legislation. Under civil law, Israeli same-sex couples enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples and are recognized as legal units for spousal, tax and other benefits.

  • In 1992, the Knesset legally enshrined workplace protection for members of the gay and lesbian community and banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

  • As of 2014, the Israeli military ensures any enlisted soldier wishing to transition is eligible for army funded therapy, hormone replacement treatment and gender affirmation surgery.

Members of Israel’s LGBTQ community are leaders throughout society.

  • In 1998, the first openly gay official was elected to an Israeli city council and in 2002 to the Knesset. Today, officials from across the political spectrum who identify as LGBTQ serve in government.

  • Support for LGBTQ rights in Israel transcends party politics, from right-of-center Likud to left-wing Mertez. Earlier this month, Member of Knesset Amir Ohana was appointed acting Justice Minister, the first openly LGBTQ Cabinet Minister in Israel's history.

  • Israel has a number of renowned openly LGBTQ musicians and celebrities, including the 1998 Eurovision winner Dana International, who was the first transgender performer to enter the prestigious European singing competition.

Type: Memo