Gay politicians keep power in Israeli elections
Israelis went to the polls on Tuesday to vote for mayors and city council members across the country. Among the victors was Itai Pincas, who won a city council seat in Tel Aviv and became the second openly gay man elected to a city council in the country. The first was Saar Netanel, who won a Jerusalem city council seat on June 2. Pincas will replace Michal Eden, who five years ago became the first lesbian to be elected to a city council. Both Pincas and Netanel are members of the Meretz Party.
"I'm happy and proud to have the opportunity to represent the GLBT community and also to be the youngest member of the Tel Aviv-Yafo city council," Pincas told GayMiddleEast.com. "I was elected with the Meretz Party in order to push forward the cause of equal rights for the GLBT community in Tel Aviv-Yafo, and it is my full intention to stick by my promises. I pledge to establish Israel's first community center dedicated to serving the needs of the GLBT community--and for this center to be fully funded from the city budget."
Estimates of the number of eligible gay voters in Tel Aviv run about 15%, GayMiddleEast.com reports, and due to the proportionately low turnout of straight voters in relation to gay voters, the "pink vote" often reaches 20%. At a panel hosted last week at the offices of the Aguda, an Israeli national GLBT group, organized by the Political Council for Gay Rights in Israel, a record number of political candidates from many parties came to stump for the gay vote by expressing support for gay rights. Yuki Lavi, director of the Political Council, said, "The panel was a demonstration of the power of the GLBT community of Tel Aviv-Yafo. We have never seen such an outright and intensive reach-out from political candidates to the GLBT voters."