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Gay Mural Takes Middle East Stance

By Charlotte Robinson, May 15, 2012
New York graffiti artist Chris St. John was commissioned by The Alumni Community of Birthright Israel to create a massive outdoor mural in Manhattan's West Village. The mural shows 2 men holding hands while looking at scales that weigh the gay rights enjoyed in Israel versus LGBT persecution in other Middle Eastern countries, including the Palestinian territories & Iran. The artwork is the question, "Who would you want at your wedding?" The mural will remain at 111 Leroy Street between Greenwich & Hudson Streets until defaced. Rebecca Sugar, Executive Director of The Alumni Community of Birthright Israel stated "I hope that everyone who believes in decency & freedom, including those in the gay community will look at this mural & know that Israeli society best reflects the values that we cherish here in New York. President Obama's endorsement Wednesday of gay marriage has brought the issue to the forefront of the American conversation, which is playing out across many states. But in the Middle East, only Israel enjoys the freedom to have that same debate. Members of the gay community need to understand that there is only one country in the Middle East where a free & safe life is available to them – Israel & we hope that significance is not lost." The mural shows on one scale facts about Israel's neighbors: "In Iran homosexuality is a crime punishable by death. There is no Pride Parade in Egypt, Jordan or Gaza. Homosexuality is illegal in Syria." On the other scale are facts about Israel where gay couples can legally adopt children, serve openly in the military & government & more than 10,000 people celebrated at Tel Aviv's Pride Parade in 2011. Check it OUT at 111 Leroy Street between Greenwich & Hudson Streets in NYC.

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