Police said they were expecting around 100,000 people, while organizers put the figure at over 200,000, with an estimated 30,000 of them from overseas.
The parade is the region’s biggest as Israel stands in sharp contrast to much of its neighbors. Across the rest of the Middle East, gay and lesbian relationships are mostly taboo. Pervasiveness of religion in everyday life, along with strict cultural norms, plays a major factor.
Same-sex relations are punishable by death in Iran, Sudan and elsewhere.
The parade in Tel Aviv began at noon, and proceeded to the beachfront, along Bugrashov Street, Hayarkon Street, Frishman and Herbert Samuel, concluding at Charles Clore Park in the city’s south, where a party will be held into the evening. Intermittent road closures were expected throughout the area, including along Allenby, Arlosoroff and King George.
About 10 floats took part in the beachside procession, one of them depicting an ancient warship built by staff at the British embassy in Tel Aviv, the embassy website said. Britain’s ambassador to Israel is David Quarrey, an openly gay man.
Security was heavy surrounding the parade, with hundreds of police, who warned the public to refrain from bringing any sharp objects or fireworks to the area, as well as animals and bicycles. Officers are also permitted to search revelers for weapons even without probable cause.
On Sunday, officers arrested a man in Bnei Brak on suspicion of threatening the upcoming parade in a Facebook post. During the 2015 pride parade in Jerusalem, 16-year-old Shira Banki was murdered and several others injured by Yishai Schlissel, an ultra-Orthodox extremist protesting the parade. READ MORE