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Israel President Shimon Peres Expresses Support for Gay Rights, Unions

Israel's President Shimon Peres came out for same-sex marriage today, Ynet reports:

PeresIn an interview with Ynet on Sunday while in Mexico's Guadalajara, Peres said that "even a person who is a homosexual is a human being, and he has rights. We have no power to take away (their) rights."

Peres added: "We cannot take away someone's rights because they are different. We cannot take away their right to breathe, right to eat or right to start a family. We must allow everyone to live as is natural to them."

Peres' comments came in response to a new bill being promoted by the Justice Ministry called 'Living together' which attempts to regulate some form of a civil partnership between same-sex couples.

Ynet adds:

An additional bill, being promoted by MK Stav Shaffir (Labor) and which attempt to secure equal marriage rights to same-sex couples, failed to make it through the committee a few weeks ago. Yesh Atid filed a party-supported initiative to regulate same-sex as well as civil (as opposed to religiously ordained) marriage in Israel. The gist of the bill was an attempt to form a civilian version of the rabbinate which would offer state-sanctioned civilian marriage services.


Newly Reelected Israeli Mayor Thanks God There are No Gay Residents in His City

AbutbulAn Israeli mayor is apparently taking a page out of former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's playbook with his recent assertion that there are no homosexuals in his city. The Times of Israel reports that Moshe Abutbul, the newly reelected haredi Orthodox mayor of Beit Shemesh, made the claim in an Israeli talk show interview:

In a Friday interview on Channel 10, Abutbul, when asked about the presence of homosexuals in the city, said that "we have no such things...Thank God this city is holy and pure." The mayor said that he "was not involved" in the issue, and it was up to the Health Ministry and the police to "take care of them."

Unsurprisingly, the comment set off a firestorm among 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. [...]

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."

 The Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgendered in Israel has also filed a complaint against Abutbul, with the association's chairman, Shai Doitsh, saying the mayor's comment "constitutes incitement, urging attacks on and a show of contempt for the LGBT community." 


Gay Man Runs for Mayor of Tel Aviv, Hopes for Historic First in Middle East

Just yesterday, Towleroad posted about Sheka and Teka, sexually ambiguous puppets who set off a firestorm of excitement when a baby was brought into their lives. Are they gay? Should they "come out" in order to raise awareness for LGBT families? Well, Israelis will not have to second guess one of Tel Aviv's mayoral candidates, Nitzan Horowitz who, if elected, would become the first openly gay mayor in the Middle East.

It is an exciting prospect, but one that is unlikely to happen. Horowitz's bid though, much like the puppets, reveals much about gay life and culture in the socially diverse country of Israel.

Horowitz_NitzanReuters reports:

The left-wing legislator is not predicted to defeat the incumbent, the well-established ex-fighter pilot Ron Huldai, in an October 22 municipal vote.

But the 48-year-old remains upbeat, pointing to an opinion poll his dovish Meretz party commissioned last month that gave Huldai only a five-point lead.

...

"I'm going to be not only the first gay mayor here in Israel, but the first gay mayor of the entire Middle East. This is very exciting," Horowitz told Reuters.

Horowitz's prominence in Tel Aviv is not altogether surprising. In a region better known for its religious and social conservatism, it is dubbed the "city that never sleeps".

With a population of 410,000, it was also ranked in a poll by Gaycities.com last year as a top gay destination.

Huldai, Horowitz's opponent, has done much for the gay population of Tel Aviv. The city hosts an annual pride parade and LGBT film festival, as well as a cultural center accessible to older and younger citizens alike. However, Horowitz hopes that this lofty public position could end some of the lingering homophobia in Tel Aviv and the larger Middle East. 

The task of improving policy toward gays in the Jewish state is "very challenging, because this is a country, a region with a lot of problems concerning the gay community, discrimination, even violence," the candidate said.

...

Gay marriage - and civil ceremonies in general - that take place in Israel are not recognized by the authorities. Horowitz, who has lived with his partner for more than a decade, wants that to change.

"I hope once I'm elected this will contribute to tolerance and understanding, not just in Israel, but in the entire region," Horowitz said.

Good luck to Horowitz in the coming election! 


Israeli 'Bert And Ernie' Reignite Gay Debate After Introducing Baby In New Ad

Shekateka2

In a new commercial from Israel Electric Corp, the characters Sheka and Teka, a dynamic duo since 2002, introduced a baby into their ambiguous relationship. There have been rumors about the puppet pair's sexuality for over a decade, particularly given that other commercials have found the two sharing a bedroom (albeit in separate beds), lounging on the couch in PJ's, and paddling on a boat in the Dead Sea. The addition of a baby without a mother figure has rekindled the speculation surrouding Sheka and Teka's feelings for each other.

Ynet News reports:

The ads highlight a striking paradox of the Holy Land: Although religion holds great sway and there is no civil marriage, gays have gained a widespread acceptance that is increasingly noted around the world. Gay activists demand the ad characters, who have a close but ambiguous relationship, officially come out of the closet.

...

"This should weigh on the conscience of everyone who worked on this campaign, who will come home and ask themselves whether they would want to raise a child in a country where the electric company says: 'Hide, don't be proud,'" wrote Dvir Bar in nightlife magazine City Mouse.

Although the puppets are fictional characters and have little to do with reality, they do have a prominent pop cultural position from which they could spread a message of acceptance and honesty. However, they are representatives of a state which, while progressive in many regards (e.g. hospital visitation rights and open military service), still maintains a high degree of religious conservatism that limits civil marriages. All of these reports are dependent on whether or not Sheka and Teka could even be considered gay, though, and Israel Electric Corp. has made a statement refuting the claims.

"They represent the concerned Israeli, who is really worried about the air quality he is breathing and the environment he lives in. The baby that was born now represents the next generation," said Oren Helman, a senior vice president who is behind the commercial. "There are no hints or ambiguities here."


NEWS: Turner Field, Drug Sentences, The Deficit, Clinton 2016, Musicians, and Superheroes

 Road President Obama has announced the leader of its new independent committee that will be investigating potential ethics violations by the nation's surveillance programs. At the head of the committee is James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence who has already previously misled Congress. Turnerfield

Road A Georgia man fell to his death last night at Atlanta's Turner Field during a match-up between the Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies. 

Road US Attorney General Eric Holder announced yesterday that he will work to cut mandatory minimum sentences for low-level drug offenses, stating that "too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long."

Road Current peace talks taking place between Israel and Palestine are facing potential problems as 26 long-term prisoners were moved by Israeli officials shortly before their release.

 Road North Dakota's U.S. attorney Timothy Purdon addressed a crowd of hundreds during a recent joint Pride Celebration hosted by Fargo and Moorhead, MN. During his impassioned speech, he told the state's LGBT citizens point-blank: "you have an ally". 

Road The U.S. Government announced yesterday that its budget deficit through July of next year will be 37.6 percent, and that the budget starting in September 2014 is on its way to having the smallest deficit in five years. 

Road Rihanna and Katy Perry recently reunited during a restaurant opening in NYC. No word yet as to whether there were any more "quasi-bi" antics this time around. 

Road Anthony Weiner, intentionally or not, teased a 2016 bid by Hillary Clinton for President of the United States, telling Buzzfeed that he "knows his wife's role" in the upcoming campaign. 

Road Adele is currently in talks to make a cameo appearance in Mathew Vaughn's upcoming film The Secret Service. If successful, she will be appearing in the film alongside David Beckham and Elton John. 

Road Those wishing to partake of fried food without the sting of racism can breathe a little easier

Road The Wanted released a new music video. Apparently, they also own the night. Who knew? Batman Wedding

Road Lady Gaga committed another possible fashion faux-pas in her quest to obtain even more "Applause". 

Road Meanwhile, Madonna was possibly channelling her uber-butch self a little too much during a recent paintball game. 

Road Breaking Bad continues with its ultra-violent final season.

Road Robert Downey, Jr continues to roll in it after new endorsement deals follow him after his successes with The Avengers and Iron Man 3

Road Torn between you love for your hubby and your love for Batman? Can't decide how to properly honor them both. Just do what these two guys did!


News: Baby Cambridge, Amanda Bynes, Freddie Mercury, Matt Bomer

Road King David's Palace unearthed by archaeologists in Israel? Royalbaby

Road The sex problem in the Navy.

Road New trailer for George Clooney & Sandra Bullock's Gravity.

Road The world finally meets HRH Baby Cambridge.

Road Sofia Vergara gives co-star Jesse Tyler Ferguson wedding shout-out.

Road Shia LaBeouf understands the value of a well-planned ensemble when going to The Home Depot.

Road Justin Theroux proves guns are in this season.

Road Reese Witherspoon gets wild.

Road This is not a still from Magic Mike 2.

Road The most unfortunate back-brace/baseball hat combo ever.

Road Dennis Farina battled lung cancer leading up to his death.

Road Amanda Bynes tries to burn down a rando’s house, gets hospitalized against will for mental evaluation. Burns Dog in process. Is this real life?

Road In case you didn’t get your fill of Teen Beach buff-ness yet.

Road Armie Hammer went to Cowboy Camp. Seriously, no one got a pic of that?

Bomer  Road Possibly your new summer anthem. Not surprisingly by Icona Pop.

  Road I hate it when my hair gets caught in a fan.

  Road Even at the airport, Ricky Martin and those boys are darn cute.

  Road In more gun-related news, these firearms were on display earlier this week.

  Road The CW’s The Carrie Diaries finds its Samantha.

  Road Sacha Baron-Cohen will not play Freddie Mercury as earlier planned.

  Road Apparently we need to check out The Vineyard.

  Road A look back at Windsors in the family way.

  Road This might be the best pic from Comic-Con.

Road The fallout from SCOTUS’ VRA ruling isn’t pretty.

Road All in the family: Robin Thicke's 'Blurred Lines' gets mashed up with Growing Pains.

Road New Hunger Games movie promises to bring the beefcake.

Road The witch is back.

Road Maybe he just misinterpreted someone's order for a six inch sub.

Road Is Batman/Superman mashup a bad idea?

Road Mitt Romney's granddaughter shares Baby Cambridge's birthday. So does Penelope Cruz & Javier Bardem's daughter.


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