Israeli Police Officer Who Photographed Revelers at Tel Aviv Gay Party to Be Disciplined

Two videos of partygoers engaging in sexual relations were also posted on social media, and party organizers claim it was the police who spread them

Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg
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The policeman in Hangar 11, June 2019.
The policeman in Hangar 11, June 2019.
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

A police officer will face a disciplinary hearing after he photographed seminude revelers at a party he was guarding in Tel Aviv.

The police said the officer’s actions were inappropriate and violated the spirit of the organization.

The selfie photo the police officer took spread after it was posted on the Facebook page of right-wing Rapper Yoav Eliasi, known by his stage name Hatzel. Two video clips from the party were also posted, in which men can be seen having sexual relations. The party, sponsored by the “Beef” gay party line, was held in Hanger 11 club as part of the Gay Pride events in Tel Aviv. Hundreds attended the party, many of them foreign visitors.

>> Read more: Israeli LGBTQ activists criticize police over raid on Tel Aviv gay club during Pride MonthU.S. anti-pinkwashing 'progressives' don't see LGBTQ Israelis as real people, only pawns | Opinion

It is still unclear who filmed the videos and distributed them, but the producers of the party said they were taken by security guards and police officers. The police vehemently rejected this claim and a police source said the officer in the selfie had no intention of shaming partygoers. The police will thoroughly investigate the matter, he added.

The “Beef” party line has operated for about 10 years, and tickets for its events are sold in advance. Inside the hall is a fenced off and marked dark room where people can have sex. This is not the only party line or club – gay or straight – in Tel Aviv where sexual relations may take place.

This specific party, which opened the line’s gay pride weekend events, was guarded by 60 security guards from a private security firm, along with about 15 police officers. A person from Hanger 11 testified that police officials expressed shock at what they saw during the party.

Sean Crazz, the DJ for the party and one of the producers, told Haaretz: “The police knew about the nature of the event and even went through a proper briefing.” Crazz made it clear that he did not see any sexual relations taking place outside the club. “Intolerant police officers should not guard the event,” he added. “Events of this type are not only held in the gay community. The police are looking to harass us and did so from the beginning of the night.”

On Monday, the producer of the Beef line, Tomas Shemesh, was summoned for an administrative hearing by the police. Even though the party was planned with full cooperation with the police, the hearing was called because organizers added a performance that included a sex act, not mentioned in the original planning for the event.

After the hearing, Shemesh wrote on Facebook: “To allege about public nudity, public display of affection or indecent acts – is irrelevant at a produced, cordoned off and private event, where all the thousands of people attending know what type of event they are coming to. It is not public – it is a Gay Pride production with tickets. You don’t like gays around you celebrating?! Then don’t police or guard us!”

Etai Pinkas Arad, a member of the Tel Aviv City Council who holds the LGBTQ portfolio, said that photographing and filming the events by those who are supposed to be protecting it is shameful for everyone and grossly violates the right to privacy. If the police officer did take the photos, then he violated his obligations to the police and the public, and necessary actions must be immediately taken against him, said Pinkas Arad. This is more than just a disciplinary offense, it is a violation of sexual harassment laws, he added.

Ohad Hizki, the director of the National LGBTQ Task Force, said the incident is a gross violation of a long list of laws whose goal is to protect people’s privacy and damages the trust between the LGBTQ community and the police. He also said the organization would help all the victims of harassment, both in criminal and in civil proceedings, against those involved.

The Israel Police said: “During the events of Pride Month, the police operated at dozens of events to protect the partiers and preserve their safety and security. As for photography, as far as it was done by a police officer then it was inappropriate and does not keep with the spirit of the organization – and will be clarified disciplinarily.”

Regarding the summoning of the owner of the line for a hearing, the police said that “when a suspicion arose that the event was held not according to the conditions of the permit granted, and with a suspicion of a criminal offense, the organizers were summoned for a hearing and the police opened an investigation. The [investigation] materials will be given to prosecutors,” said the police.

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