Row after Israeli airport staff strip search Barcelona gay rights leader’s boyfriend

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Two of the leading members of Barcelona’s LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) community have claimed that they were subjected to humiliating security checks while trying to fly home to Spain from Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport. Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has criticised the actions by airport security staff.

David Marti, Barcelona Pride’s general manager and his partner had been taking part in Tel Aviv’s gay pride parade as guests of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr Marti claims that airport security staff had stripped his boyfriend and asked a series of personal questions which he claims exceeded reasonable limits.

Although the questioning continued until just minutes before their flight was due to leave, security officials did ensure that the pair were able to fly home on their original flight.

Mr Marti afterwards complained to the Israeli Embassy in Madrid and said that the positive image he had seen of Israeli had been risked by the actions of the security staff.

A Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told the Haaretz newspaper: “Security personnel at the airport need to understand that they are the face of the State of Israel. They are the first and last thing that people who come to Israel see.”

The spokesperson described Mr Marti and his boyfriend as “guests of the state” and that their details were passed to security officials in advance of arriving at the airport. The spokesperson added that: “the security inspector severely harmed Israel’s image. The last thing that we do to them is abuse them and they say that they don’t want to come back again.”

In a statement the Israeli Airport Authority said: “Security personnel at Ben Gurion International Airport work day and night for the security of the passengers. Security personnel treat all passengers the same, regardless of their sexual orientation or beliefs.”

Israel is the only state in the Middle East to recognise gay relationships and enforce anti-homophobia legislation.