Main content

Tel Aviv Comes Out

As Tel Aviv celebrates gay pride, how did the city become an oasis for gay tolerance?

In many Middle East countries being gay can lead to the death penalty, but why is Tel Aviv investing so much in promoting the city as a place that accepts and welcomes gay men and women? As thousands of gay men and women from around the world travelled to Tel Aviv for Pride week in June, Tim Samuels reveals how Tel Aviv has become a leading gay city following a concerted campaign by the mayor. Critics accuse Israel of 'pink-washing' to soften its image - but Tel Aviv stands out as an oasis of gay tolerance in an otherwise hostile region.

Amidst the carnival atmosphere, Pride week brought to light the fascinating nuances and tensions within Israeli society. Pride is a public assertion not just of gay rights, but of secular strength. Also 'covertly' attending Pride were West Bank Palestinians, whose sexuality can bring risks to their personal safety.

Tel Aviv's march to gay epicentre hasn't always been smooth - or organic. In 2009, the mayor embarked on a multi-million dollar mission to rebrand the city as the ultimate gay destination. In that same year, a gunman – who has never been caught - opened fire on a gay youth club killing two people. Hostility is never far away.

CORRECTION: In this programme Moshe Dayan is described as a former prime minister of Israel. In fact he was not, but was minister of defence and later foreign affairs.

(Credit: Getty Images)

Available now

55 minutes

Broadcasts

Space

Space

Stargazing - from eclipses to the spacecraft changing our view of the Universe

Congo: A River Journey in binaural audio

Congo: A River Journey in binaural audio

Put your headphones on for an immersive journey along the mighty Congo River in the DRC

The Documentary Podcast

The Documentary Podcast

Every episode of The Documentary, on your mp3 player, to play wherever you are

The Compass

The Compass

The essential take on big ideas, issues and trends from the 21st century