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Organisers of Tel Aviv Pride have suggested they might cancel the annual LGBT pride parade in protest at the Israeli government’s decision to spend money on tourism around pride without an equal commitment to LGBT rights.
The government is now spending NIS 11 million to encourage tourism off the back of the event, especially targeting the lucrative Pink Pound. Among the things the Tourism Ministry will be paying for is a rainbow airplane to carry tourists.
On Saturday, council members Yaniv Waizman and Efrat Tolkowsky met with the leaders of the Agudah – The Israel National LGBT Task Force. Their agenda included discussing grievances and priorities.
Imri Kalman, Agudah co-chair, said, ‘Unlike the gay communities around the world who achieved historic achievements, the gay community of Israel had one of its worse years. Murder at the Jerusalem parade, many bills did not make it past the ministerial committee [for legislation] and the plenum, violence and inciting comments from MKs and a government minister.’
Tel Aviv Pride made headlines last July when 16-year old Shira Banki was stabbed by ultra-Orthodox Yishai Shlissel at the Jerusalem parade. Banki died three days later in hospital. Shlissel, who had just been released from jail, had been imprisoned for a similar offense back in 2005.
‘In response to the community’s demand to increase the budget that was sent three weeks ago to the Prime Minister’s Office and the finance minister, we got in return a painted plane,’ Kalman continued. ‘At the moment we are holding consultations with the relevant people and weighing our options, among them cancelling the parade.’
Last year’s Tel Aviv Pride drew an estimated 180,000 participants, including 30,000 tourists.
Of the parade on 3 June, Tolkowsky said, ‘The parade will be held as planned, the municipality will not cancel the parade. The municipality is glad that the Tourism Ministry picked up the gauntlet and invested an unprecedented budget in the parade, and hope that other ministries will do the same.’