Tel Aviv Pride returns after Covid cancellation
Thousands of people attended a Pride parade in Tel Aviv on Friday in one of the largest public gatherings held since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The vibrant parade and beach party are held on the seafront promenade in the Israeli city, a rare hub of gay culture in the conservative Middle East, where homosexuality is widely considered taboo and outlawed in many countries. Some 250,000 people attended the Tel Aviv parade honouring the LGBTQ community in 2019 before it was called off last year because of the pandemic. Tens of thousands were expected at this year's event. Israel fully reopened this spring after carrying out one of the world's most successful vaccination campaigns, but a recent outbreak driven by the more contagious Delta variant has raised concerns. Authorities are once again requiring people to wear masks in indoor public places starting Friday, and are advising mask-wearing at large outdoor events like the Pride celebrations. Thousands of people marched through Jerusalem earlier this month in a much smaller Pride parade, celebrating LGBTQ rights in the conservative city amid heavy police security. Jewish ultra-Orthodox parties, which wield significant influence over matters of religion and state, oppose homosexuality as a violation of religious law.