'Caitlyn' Jenner invited to Tel Aviv gay pride parade

by Gregory Tomlin |

(REUTERS/Nir Elias)People sing on a street in Tel Aviv during an annual Gay Pride parade in town June 7, 2013. Thousands of revelers on Friday paraded on the streets of Israel's free-wheeling city of Tel Aviv, which has become a Mediterranean hotspot for gay tourism. 'Caitlyn' Jenner has been invited by a city councilman to be a guest of honor at this year's event.

TEL AVIV, Israel (Christian Examiner) – Bruce Jenner, the transgender former athlete now being addressed by the media as "Caitlyn," has been invited by a member of the Tel Aviv City Council to be guest of honor at Tel Aviv's 17th annual Pride Parade, the Jerusalem Post has reported.

(YouTube/SCREEN SHOT)

In a letter from Yaniv Waizman, who notes in the letter he represents the interests of the gay, lesbian and transgender (LGBT) community in the city, Jenner is praised for his recent decision to share his "private and intimate journey."

Waizman said Jenner was an inspiration and a "person we all look up to."

"At a time when transgender people around the world are fighting for equal rights and an end to discrimination in the job market, housing and health services, and as they struggle to gain the respect they deserve, and to live a life in dignity, your brave exposure has definitely saved lives," Waizman wrote.

According to the letter, this year's parade – which takes place June 12-13 – focuses on strengthening the gay community in "one of the world's leading gay cities."

I think that the state of Israel can learn from Ireland, that just recently, in a referendum, approved gay marriage. I think that in the state of Israel, given the awakening that's happening, it's important for there to be a city that says 'here, a person can live their life.'
- Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai

Earlier in May, the Israel Times described the findings of a survey that claimed Israel was the 7th best country in the world for gay men.

The survey, published by a gay dating network and researchers with Germany's Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz and called the "Gay Happiness Index," evaluated the opinions of 115,000 gay men worldwide. Iceland was named the best country for gay men, followed by Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

Gay marriage is legal in those countries. It is not in Israel because marriage in the country is a religious, rather than civil ceremony.

Tel Aviv's mayor, however, wants to change that. Ron Huldai told the Jerusalem Post Ireland's recent decision to allow same-sex marriage by popular vote is the pattern his country should follow, presumably sidestepping the Knesset and religious authorities.

"I think that the state of Israel can learn from Ireland, that just recently, in a referendum, approved gay marriage. I think that in the state of Israel, given the awakening that's happening, it's important for there to be a city that says 'here, a person can live their life,'" Huldai said May 28 as he kicked off the week's long "pride" celebration in the city.

Huldai faced a serious challenge in 2013 when he was challenged for his position by Knesset Member Nitzan Horowitz, who – if he had been elected – would have been the first openly gay mayor of Tel Aviv and of a city in the Middle East.