The Middle East could see its first openly gay mayor if Israeli politician Nitzan Horowitz is successful in his bid to become mayor of Tel Aviv.
Horowitz, a former journalist and a member of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament), announced his candidacy for the position in the upcoming October elections.
The 48-year-old is set to challenge incumbent Ron Huldai, who will attempt to return to office for the fourth time.
“I love this city, I can’t imagine living my life anywhere else,” stated Horowitz in a press conference.
“I live this city, its streets and avenues, I know it through and through. Just as I know the beautiful things about it, I’m aware of its problems and I know what needs be done. Thus I decided to contribute my experience where I could best contribute,” he said.
Tel Aviv has been dubbed “the gay capital of the Middle East” and is known for being gay friendly and for its annual Pride Parade and gay beach.
When he was elected to the Knesset in 2009, Horowitz became only the second openly gay member in the legislature’s history.
In January he performed three ceremonial same-sex wedding ceremonies in protest against comments by right wing Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan who said that same-sex marriage would be a “recipe for the destruction of the Jewish people.”
“There are no civil unions in Israel, no same-sex marriage and no freedom of choice in marriage. Hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens are deprived of this basic right,” Horowitz said at the time.
While Israel recognises same-sex marriages licensed in other countries, It does not allow same-sex couples to marry on Israeli soil.