A gay man has been elected mayor in a suburb of Tel Aviv, the first time an LGBT person has been elected mayor in the country.
Eitan Ginzburg took office in the town of Ra’anana on Sunday, after six years as deputy mayor and 15 total on the city council. The 41-year-old Ginzburg was elected by the council in a special election after his predecessor, Ze’ev Bielski, left to manage the National Housing Authority.
“I feel there is significance that another glass ceiling was shattered, showing the progress in Israeli society,” Ginzburg told The Jerusalem Post. He said the honor was especially poignant because the council includes councilmen who are Orthodox.
“I was chosen because of my work,” he added. “I am happy the fact that I am gay did not stop me from getting elected with the support of the Bayit Yehudi,” an Orthodox Zionist political party. “I was chosen not because I am gay and not in spite of it,” he added, “but because of the work I have done.”
Ginzburg, also currently Israel’s youngest mayor, has been with his partner, Yotam, for 15 years. (The two recently had twins via surrogacy.) Ex-city councilman Rabbi Stewart Weiss called Ginzburg “a good man” who has “a good relationship with the religious and secular community, and with Ra’anana’s substantial [English-speaking] community.”
Ginzburg will serve as interim mayor until October’s national municipal elections, when he will have to formally run for office.
There have been several gay members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, but Ginzburg says he’s not looking to the national stage just yet. “My only aspiration is to win the election for mayor of Ra’anana and serve the residents. But I do see the need to move on to the next generation. The world is developing quickly.”