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First ever Jewish-Arab Pride held in Israeli city

Ella Braidwood July 28, 2018

Revellers carrying an Israeli national flag celebrate along a sea side avenue in Tel Aviv during the city's annual Gay Pride parade on June 8, 2018. - Tens of thousands of people gathered along the beach in the Israeli commercial capital Tel Aviv for the largest Gay Pride event in the Middle East. (Photo by GIL COHEN-MAGEN / AFP) (Photo credit should read GIL COHEN-MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Israel’s first ever Jewish-Arab Pride has been held in the mixed city of Lod.

More than 150 people took part in the event on Thursday night (July 26), held in front of the city hall in Lod, central Israel, which is home to both Jewish and Arab residents, reports Tel Aviv-founded +972 Magazine. 

Natalie Kirstein, a Lod resident and activist for the left-wing Meretz party, which helped organise the Pride, said: “There are those who say the city is not ready for this, but how will it be ready if we don’t hold pride events?

“Last year there was controversy, this time we didn’t have any, and we received help from the municipality and the police.”

She described the event, which organisers had hoped to drawn-in an 800-strong turnout, as “historic.”

It also marked the first time an Arab member of Knesset gave a speech at a Pride event.

“I am proud of you and our friendship,” Meretz MK Issawi Frej said to the audience.

“You have the same right as anyone else to live where you want and how you want. We believe that the human being is at the center, and this means a human being regardless of sex or colour – we are equal. I am here to identify with you.”

The Jewish-Arab Pride event in Lod, Israel, on Thursday. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Frej also addressed Israel’s controversial new surrogacy law, which excludes gay couples and single from having a child using a surrogate, and has been the subject of multiple protests in the country.

“The Jewish Nation-State Law discriminates against the LGBTQ community, because when we talk about the extreme right wing in the Jewish state, we are talking about a state without LGBTQs,” said Frej.

“We are together in the same hole. We cannot discriminate against the LGBTQ community among us. We cannot demand respect while disparaging the other. It is impossible to fight for my equality and not for that of others. To be persecuted and become the persecutor.”

Meretz MK Issawi Frej speaking at the Jewish-Arab Pride event in Lod, Israel, on Thursday. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

“You have the same right as anyone else to live where you want and how you want. We believe that the human being is at the center, and this means a human being regardless of sex or color — we are equal. I am here to identify with you.”

Other speakers included Hen Arieli, the executive director of the Aguda, an LGBT+ organisation in Israel, and Adam Zulud, an Arab rapper, who lives in the city.

Zulud said: “If you would have told me a few years ago that Lod would host a pride event, it would have seemed illogical to me. This is an amazing thing.”

“Lod will bring the gospel: a Jewish-Arab event that says we are all fighting for our lives here.”

There were also Ethiopian-Israeli and Russian speakers at the event.

Protesters against PM Benjamin Netanyahu. (The Aguda – The Israeli National LGBT Task Force)

LGBT+ activists have staged a number of mass protests against Israel’s new surrogacy law in cities across the country, including Beer-Sheva, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa and Karmiel.

Earlier this month, LGBT+ activists posted a video that shows a car being driven into him in Beer-Sheva, Israel, in what he has described as an act of “homophobia.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, protesters recently gathered outside Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem, chanting slogans accusing him of being a homophobe.

Meanwhile, in Tel Aviv, protesters shut down the Ayalon Highway – one of the main thoroughfares in the city.

More: Israel, Israel, Middle East, Pride

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