The Gaza-based Shehab News Agency used derogatory terms for gay men and women in its coverage of the LGBT community’s annual parade along the Mediterranean coast, which drew hundreds of thousands of people. The agency called the Israeli city a “settlement” and claimed that Israel has one of the world’s highest rates of homosexuality, which it described as an “anomaly.”
Over 200,000 people gathered in Tel Aviv to participate in the region’s largest gay pride parade on June 3rd. “The sun is out and everybody is partying and having fun, the atmosphere is great,” Christian Tummann, a German tourist, told the Associated Press. “I feel so happy, so happy, that I can go to the Middle East and still be proud, it’s very nice,” added Dona Ulzen, who was visiting from Sweden.
Pride week is merely the highlight of year round activities in what is arguably the Middle East’s most open city. “Israel is widely tolerant of gay people, and Tel Aviv has emerged as one of the world’s most gay-friendly travel destinations,” the AP noted. “The city stands in sharp contrast to much of the region, where people are persecuted and may even be killed because of their sexuality.”
According to a 2015 survey by the Pew Research Center, 89% of Muslims in the Palestinian territories favor making sharia—a legal code based on Islamic scriptures, which forbid homosexuality—the official law of their country. A 2013 survey by Pew found that 89% of the same demographic views homosexual behavior as being “morally wrong.”
A survey carried out by the advocacy group Hiddush ahead of Tel Aviv Pride found that 76% of Israelis believe that civil marriage should be available for same-sex couples. Days before the poll was published, Ta’alin Abu Hanna, a 21-year-old Catholic Israeli-Arab, was crowned the first winner of the Miss Trans Israel pageant.
“If I had not been in Israel and had been elsewhere—in Palestine or in any other Arab country—I might have been oppressed or I might have been in prison or murdered,” Abu Hanna said at the time. “Our country allowed me, a Christian Arab from Nazareth, to end the war between my soul and my body.”
[Photo: Miriam Alster/FLASH90]