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Sunday, November 10, 2013

'No gays in my town, thank God' says Orthodox mayor of Beit Shemesh

A complaint of incitement has been filed with the police against Beit Shemesh mayor Moshe Abutbul, who said on TV on Friday night that homosexuality was a problem that needed to be dealt with by “the Health Ministry or the police.”

Abutbul, who was reelected mayor of Beit Shemesh three weeks ago, also said, “We have none of those things [gays] here. Thank God, this city is holy and pure.”

The complaint was filed by the Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgendered in Israel. In a letter to Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, attorney Ben Ilan wrote: “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 Association. “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?”

Eli Cohen, the challenger who lost the election to Abutbul, criticized the Shas mayor on his Facebook page, saying, “The mayor needs to understand that people with whom he does not agree, people who are different from him, are also within his sphere of responsibility. The statement that ‘the Health Ministry will deal with them’ is not fitting for a public figure and should certainly not be directed toward the long-time residents of Beit Shemesh. Abutbul has not learned that there are residents in the city who are different from him, and he has an obligation to treat them properly.”

Meanwhile, Cohen, who had the support of most of the city’s non-Haredi parties in the election, will submit a request for new elections to the Jerusalem District Court on Monday, claiming voting irregulatrities. The Knesset’s Internal Affairs and Environment Committee will meet at 11 A.M. to discuss the matter.

The Israel Police continue to investigate allegations of voter fraud in Beit Shemesh, following reports of forgery and irregularities at polling stations. Cohen’s supporters are confident that they have sufficient proof of people voting in various places, the disqualification of large numbers of ballots and other problems.

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