Thousands of people marched in Jerusalem Pride parade, an annual event that took place for the first time under Israel’s new far-right government, which is stacked with openly homophobic members.
The march in the conservative city is always tense and tightly secured by police, and has been wracked by violence in the past. But this year, Israel finds itself deeply riven over a contentious government plan to overhaul the judiciary. The plan has torn open longstanding societal divisions between those who want to preserve Israel’s liberal values and those who seek to shift it toward more religious conservatism.
Jerusalem’s march is typically more subdued than the one in gay-friendly Tel Aviv, where tens of thousands of revelers pour into the streets for a massive, multicolored party. But Jerusalem’s parade, amid tight security, drew bigger crowds than usual in a show of force against the government and its plan to reshape the legal system.
“There isn’t one struggle in Israel for democracy, and another one for LGBTQ+ rights,” opposition leader Yair Lapid said in a speech to the crowd. “It’s the same struggle, against the same enemies, in the name of the same values.”
Israel is generally tolerant toward the LGBTQ community, a rarity in the conservative Middle East, where homosexuality is widely considered taboo and is outlawed in some places. Members of the LGBTQ community serve openly in Israel’s military and parliament, and many popular artists and entertainers are openly gay.
Tel Aviv Pride Parade is one of the largest in the world