.يولد جميع الناس أحرارا متساوين في الكرامة والحقوق. وقد وهبوا عقلا وضميرا وعليهم أن يعامل بعضهم بعضا بروح الإخاء‎
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Saturday, June 9, 2007

Thousands march for Gay Pride in Tel Aviv

Thousands of gays, lesbians and activists marched and partied at the annual Gay Pride parade and beach bash on Friday hosted by Israel's commercial capital Tel Aviv.

Participants walked and danced in a carnival atmosphere from the central Rabin Square to a strip of downtown Mediterranean beach to hear DJs, musical acts, performance artists and local singing stars.

Police put attendance at 10,000 and reported no serious incident, despite threatened disruption from right-wing and religious opponents of the parade, which has been organised in liberal Tel Aviv by its municipality since 1998.

Mike Hamel, who chairs the national association of gay, lesbian and bi community in Israel, hoped that tens of thousands would attend what he called "sand, sun and lots of fun" twined to a meaningful political rally.

"It's an empowering experience. It's uplifting and at the same time it's meaningful. It's not just a party. It's not just music and fun. It's a political rally talking about human rights," he told AFP.

A handful of opponents, kept behind police barricades, hurled insults at the participants walking past largely oblivious. "God hates debauchery," was written on placards that they waved in anger.

The parade came two days after parliament passed, in a preliminary reading, a bill that would allow Jerusalem municipality to ban such parades -- those "which would hurt public order, public feelings or for religious reasons."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, one of whose daughters is openly lesbian, is opposed to the initiative -- which needs to pass three more readings to become law.

Last year, a much-delayed Gay Pride parade through the streets of Jerusalem was scrapped and instead held under tight security at a stadium after violent protests by ultra-Orthodox Jews and denunciations by other religious leaders.

During a 2005 Gay Pride event in the Holy City, an ultra-Orthodox Jew stabbed and wounded three participants, and was later jailed for 12 years.

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