“No Gays in Beit Shemesh”

In Channel 10 interview Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul suggests Health Ministry and police should handle gay community. ‘Abutbul not worthy to be public official,’ resident says; Spontaneous Gay Pride parade is planned in the city for Thursday.

mosheWhat does the mayor of Beit Shemesh think of the gay community? In a channel 10 talk show interview that aired Friday the recently reelected ultra-Orthodox mayor, Moshe Abutbul (in the photo), said that it was the responsibility of the Health Ministry and the police to handle the LGBT community.

Asked if the city has gay residents, he replied, “We have no such thing. If you mean what I think you mean – then no. Thank God, this city is holy and pure.” Asked how the city handles the gay community he said, “There’s the Health Ministry, let them handle it. The Health Ministry, the police.”

The interview caused uproar among many current and former Beit Shemesh residents. “There are hundreds of gay men and women in Beit Shemesh and it saddens me that he thinks we should be treated by the Health Ministry and the police,” said Segev Israel Afriat, a resident of the city

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Abutbul’s sayings drove the Israeli LGBT community to spontaneous action: The poster below was published on the internet, inviting the community to an unscheduled “gay pride” before the mayor’s interview. “Now is the Time” says the poster of the event which takes place on Thursday evening, combined with an illustration of a bus full of people and rainbow flags, with the destination “Beit Shemesh” written on it.

“The Mayor of Beit Shemesh says that the police should handle us, so we talked to the police and they will take care of us in the gay parade we plan for him this Thursday,” write the organizers. “Let’s show Moshe Abutbul how many LGBTs there are in his city.”

According to The Aguda‘s speaker Gil Kol, Israel’s National LGBT Task Force has filed a complaint on Sunday with local police against the mayor of Beit Shemesh for inciting hate speech. The complaint was filed in addition to a letter sent to Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, stating: “These statements by an incumbent mayor in the State of Israel comparing the LGBT community to lawbreakers who must be dealt with by the police or dangers to public health constitute incitement according to Statutes 144(b) and 144(f) of the penal code.”

“This constitutes incitement, urging attacks on and a show of contempt for the LGBT community,” said Shai Doitsh, the chairman of the Aguda. “What would the mayor of Beit Shemesh say if he were to hear another mayor say on television that he would deal with Haredim through the police and the Health Ministry? Would he think it was appropriate for such a person to continue serving as the mayor of a city?”

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