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The Battle for the Gayest Destination

The Battle for the Gayest Destination

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Two Mediterranean cities are battling each other for those highly coveted gay tourism dollars.

While only 125 miles apart, Beirut, Lebanon, and Tel Aviv, Israel, are each vying to be the place gay travelers hold dear to their hearts.

Western travelers head to Beruit to "feel the Arabian spirit," gay travel spokesman Bertho Makso of Lebanon told The Jerusalem Post. However, the Post points out, homosexuality is illegal in Lebanon, though the law is barely enforced.

Meanwhile, Israel's laws and culture are more welcoming for gay travelers and citizens alike, although homophobia and hate crimes are not unknown: A shooting at a Tel Aviv gay community center last year left two people dead and at least 15 wounded.

Beruit, known as the Paris of the Middle East until its civil war from 1975 to 1990, has become renowned for its gay nightlife and restaurants. Tel Aviv's tourism bureau recently launched a campaign to attract gay visitors in conjunction with the Israeli Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender Association.

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