AP NEWS

Israelis stage mass wedding to advocate for gay rights

June 4, 2019
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Gay couples prepare for a mass same-sex wedding in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Hundreds of Israelis have participated in a mass wedding in Tel Aviv to demand the right to same-sex marriage ahead of the country's Gay Pride week, which involved an unofficial wedding ceremony for 23 gay couples, (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
1 of 11
Gay couples prepare for a mass same-sex wedding in Tel Aviv, Israel, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. Hundreds of Israelis have participated in a mass wedding in Tel Aviv to demand the right to same-sex marriage ahead of the country's Gay Pride week, which involved an unofficial wedding ceremony for 23 gay couples, (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Hundreds of Israelis have participated in a mass wedding in Tel Aviv to demand the right to same-sex marriage ahead of the country’s Gay Pride week.

Tuesday’s event involved an unofficial wedding ceremony for 23 gay couples, who walked down the aisle, took vows and danced at a banquet, cheered by friends, family and supporters.

The annual pride parade, set for June 14, draws flocks of foreign visitors to Israel, which flaunts itself as one of the world’s most gay-friendly tourist destinations.

Yet political rights for Israel’s gay community lag behind increasingly widespread cultural acceptance.

Jewish ultra-Orthodox parties, which wield significant influence in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government and have a monopoly over matters of religion and state, have rejected legislation that condones homosexuality, which they see as defying Jewish law.