Gay Israeli MP Nitzan Horowitz to run for mayor of Tel Aviv

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Gay Israeli MP Nitzan Horowitz has formally announced his intention to run for mayor of Tel Aviv.

The 48-year-old former television journalist was elected to Israel’s Parliament (Knesset) in 2009, making Mr Horowitz the second openly gay Knesset member in Israel’s history.

He will challenge incumbent Ron Huldai, who will attempt to secure his fourth term as Tel Aviv mayor in October’s election.

“It is exciting and exhilarating,” Mr Horowitz said in a Facebook post.

At a press conference announcing his candidacy, he spoke of his love for Tel Aviv and said that he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

In January, Mr Horowitz conducted three unofficial same-sex wedding ceremonies outside of the rabbinical court as part of a symbolic protest in the wake of anti-same-sex marriage comments made by Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan.

Mr Horowitz said: “Thousands of Israeli couples every year do what we’re doing here – couples who cannot or do not wish to marry by way of the coercive establishment of the Chief Rabbinate.”

He added: “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.”

Same-sex marriages are recognised in Israel, but must be conducted overseas as only the religious authorities: Jewish, Christian, Muslim or Druze can perform marriages, and none offer gay couples the chance to marry.