Tens of thousands kick off Tel Aviv's annual Pride Parade

MKs Tzipi Livni, Nitzan Horowitz address opening ceremony at Gan Meir; Livni says protecting every citizens' rights should not be a political issue.

Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade 2011 311 (photo credit: Yoni Cohen)
Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade 2011 311
(photo credit: Yoni Cohen)
Tel Aviv kicked off its annual Gay Pride Parade Friday afternoon. Police closed streets along the parade route and near the beach in central Tel Aviv as the procession and street party got under way with tens of thousands of participants.

At the Parade's opening in Gan Meir, opposition head MK Tzipi Livni (Kadima) told the crowd that all people have the right to be who they want to be, and the issue does not need to be a political issue dominated by the Left. RELATED:
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It's not just TA residents who support Gay Pride 2011 Quoting Israel's Declaration of Independence, Livni said it is the responsibility of the government and of all politicians to protect the rights of all people.Also speaking, was MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), who told the crowd that as a gay man, he could have only dreamed to be in a place like this when he was a teenager. "We will expand the struggle so that anybody who wants to live his or her life on their own path, can do that without fear of being cursed or hit in the street, without fearing of being thrown out of their home, and with the fear of being harassed at work."
Thousands of people had already gathered in Gan Meir before the parade began, which culminated with a beach party that lasted until the evening. The parade began in Gan Meir at around 1:30 p.m., passed through Bograshov and Ben Yehuda Streets and ended at Gordon Beach.
Some of the best DJs in town and international guests kept the beach party going until 6:30 p.m. Performers included Lovegang (Hamburg), Erez B.I., Samuel Blacher, Israel Aharoni, Ziona Patriot, Offir Malol, Shimai (Barcelona), Oscar Loya (Berlin) and many more.
Over 5,000 tourists were expected to arrive from overseas to join in the celebrations, said Shai Doitsh, "Tel Aviv Gay Vibe" Brand Manager and national board member of the LGBT Aguda.