Tel Aviv Municpality building lit up in rainbow colors symbolizing LGBT pride.
(photo credit: NIV ELIS)
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai thinks that Israel should put gay marriage to a popular vote by referendum, just as Ireland successfully did last week.
“I think that the State of Israel can learn from Ireland, that just recently, in a referendum, approved gay marriage. I think that in the State of Israel, given the awakening that’s happening, it’s important for there to be a city that says ‘here, a person can live their life,’” he told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday evening at the launch of Tel Aviv’s gay pride festival.
Huldai is credited with helping the city become one of the top gay destinations in the world, despite his early reluctance to embrace the community.
Indeed, the municipality is one of the few that financially sponsors its pride parade, and this year it’s expanding into new territory, hosting an event with Facebook about LGBT representation in advertising, coordinating a gay party at a soccer stadium, and calling on municipalities around the country to send their LGBT liaisons to confer at a Tel Aviv meet-up.
This year, organizers have put transgender people, the oft-ignored last quarter of the LGBT acronym, in the center.
The slogan is “Tel Aviv Loves All Genders,” and the logo is a blue mustache over a pink lipstick-painted lower lip.
By putting transgender issues front and center of pride, Tel Aviv has taken a step that few other cities around the world have.
Elisha Alexander, director of the transgender program at the municipality and Ma’avarim, a program that supports transgender people, said that even within the LGBT community, the transgender cause is often secondary.
The fact that Tel Aviv is putting the issue at the fore gives him hope, not just for the community, but for all of society.
“This is a struggle not just to change trans acceptance in society, but to change society itself,” he said. “It will create an understanding that it’s okay for boys to cry, and girls can do anything, even grow up to be men.”
Tel Aviv holds its annual gay pride festival in June, which will culminate in the pride parade on June 12.