The Tel Aviv Municipality and LGBTQ+ organizations which have organized the Pride Parade in the city for the past two decades were surprised after a Facebook event announcing the Pride Parade in Tel Aviv for June 11 was published recently, despite continuing coronavirus restrictions, according to Channel 12.
The news comes after Israel's pride parades were canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. The municipality and LGBTQ+ organizations have so far refrained from making a decision on whether or not the parade will be held this year due to uncertainty on whether coronavirus restrictions will allow it.
Amid the uncertainty, eight LGBTQ+ activists decided to take matters into their own hands and organize the event, stating that with the entry of LGBTQ+-phobic MKs into the Knesset the parade cannot be passed up this year.
One of the activists is Anat Nir, who has been involved in organized pride parades in the past, as well as large-scale women's protests in 2018.
"We have the knowledge, experience, skills and technical and political understanding to raise up such an event," Nir said to Channel 12. "We know how to get safety credentials, work with the police, campaign, advertise and put up stages. But above all, we come from the community and love it."
The Tel Aviv Municipality expressed outrage at the unofficial event, with officials seeing the annual pride event as a sort of "brand" belonging to the city.
"The Pride Parade has been produced and run by the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality for about 20 years," the officials told Channel 12, adding that while every group and organization has the right to protest, "there seems to be a deficiency and even a misleading of the public in the branding [of the event] as the 'Pride Parade.'"
The officials stressed that dozens of pride events are expected to be organized by the municipality in May and June while following coronavirus guidelines and added that, if coronavirus regulations allow for it, they will consider holding a pride parade as well.
A SENIOR official in the municipality told Channel 12 that the planned event is "plagiarism, not a parade."
"The parade as we know it is currently forbidden in the State of Israel," added the official. "If the state allows it, we will obviously do it and we will be able to get it up within a few weeks. It is not a registered brand like Coca-Cola, but when you say the Tel Aviv Pride Parade you know what it is – and it is not what this group is doing. They can call it pizza, it will not turn it into pizza. The parade is our brand."
Nir stressed that while the municipality has produced the parade for the past 20 years, it belongs "first and foremost to the community."
"The Pride Parade is not a branding idea or the intellectual property of one body or another," said Nir to Channel 12. "The Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality has been the home of the LGBTQ+ community for many years and we are in constant contact with its representatives in charge of the subject, who are community members and partners. "After four elections, we realized that we do not have the privilege of sitting on the fence and not making our voices heard," she said. "We keep marching because it is a struggle for our lives. We hope the municipality will find a way to help."
In terms of the financial costs of the event, Nir stated that they have received a number of offers from individuals, organizations and foundations to support the parade.
THE THEME of the parade will be "Pride Now," the Facebook page announced. Nearly 2,000 people have responded that they will be going to the event and over 2,000 have responded that they are interested.
"With great urgency we are compelled to return to the streets, demand security and fight for our rights. In the face of hatred - we will demonstrate love and pride," wrote the organizers of the parade on Facebook.
"This struggle is much broader than the boundaries of the LGBTQ+ Community – it is a struggle for the face of Israeli society," the organizers said. "Discrimination and hatred directed at the LGBTQ community is also directed at women and other minorities, and needs to be nipped in the bud! Today it's us – tomorrow it’s you!"
"We call on everyone who cares about a sane, just, inclusive and tolerant Israeli society, safe for all its members – to join us in this protest," they said. "Let's dismantle the closet, smash the glass ceiling and shout with one voice - we are here and everywhere, and we have no intention of leaving or hiding."
While the parade usually proceeds down Bograshov Street to the beach promenade and then down to Charles Clore Park, the new parade will begin with a gathering at Rabin Square and go up to the Sportek complex for an assembly and happening. The new route aims to follow the route used by the parade in the late 90's.
The parade organizers will be holding an open, online meeting on Zoom on Tuesday to allow members of the LGBTQ+ community to express what content they want to see in the parade and to take an active part in its design.The Jerusalem Open House has also published a Facebook event for the 2021 Jerusalem Pride Parade, planned for Thursday, June 3, with the text "Pride cannot be stopped. The Jerusalem March for Pride and Tolerance 2021. Save the Date." It is unclear how coronavirus restrictions may affect the event.