What 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, 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."
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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.
"He is a contemptible man who is not worthy of being an elected public official. He is unaware of the situation in the city, he chooses to see only the yeshivot. If he has a problem, he's welcome to pack his bags and move to Bnei Brak. We will not be silent."
Elinor Sidi, director of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, and former Beit Shemesh resident, added: "As one who was born and raised in Beit Shemesh, I can only lament the transformation the city has undergone in the past couple of years. Xenophobia, ignorance, homophobia and racism have replaced the warming of hearts which once characterized Beit Shemesh.
"I studied at a religious school in a tolerant atmosphere which embraced the other instead of rejecting him. Abutbul's Judaism is not the Judaism I learned as a child. Beit Shemesh had gay residents long before Abutbul."
Abutbul's communications director did not wish to comment.
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