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A quarter of a million people from around the world gathered in Tel Aviv this weekend to march in the largest ever pride parade in the Middle East.

The parade marked 20 years to the city’s first pride parade and paid tribute to the pioneering activists who played a key-role in promoting LGBT rights and visibility in Israel.

Voted the world’s “Best Gay City” by GayCities.com and “the most gay-friendly city in the world” by Wow Travel, Tel Aviv’s Pride Parade is widely recognised as one of the world’s leading LGBT events, attracting thousands of visitors from around the globe.

TV host Andy Cohen was selected to act as this year’s ‘International Pride Ambassador’. The 2018 parade also featured Eurovision winner Netta, who took Europe by a storm last month with her song Toy, which was performed on the Parade’s main stage.

The parade marked the end of a two-week long festival which included TLVFest – the City’s international gay film festival, a LGBT cultural line-up of events, a special show by the Israeli Opera honoring ‘the great divas’ which took place at NYX – the official Tel Aviv pride hotel and tributes to key historical figures in the LGBT community.

Celebrations continued throughout the weekend, with after-parties attracting tens of thousands of party-goers, including one featuring iDJ and gay-icon Ofer Nissim. 

Tel Aviv-Yafo mayor, Ron Huldai: “Tel Aviv, which has already been acknowledged as the world’s “most gay-friendly city” and as a beacon for liberty, pluralism and tolerance is very proud of the record number of tourists that took part in the pride events across the city this year. We will continue to support and celebrate our local LGBT culture and act as a welcoming destination for the International gay community.” 

Cohen added: “Celebrating Pride in Tel Aviv is a beautiful celebration of gay rights and visibility in a region where many of the neighbours cannot live as their true selves or be who they were born to be, which makes it all the more special for this massive coming together in support of equality to be taking place in Tel Aviv.”