The newly re-elected mayor of Beit Shemesh in Israel has recently ignited controversy after saying his city doesn’t have “things” like gay people because it is “holy and pure,” sparking some gay activists to challenge his claim as they gather to hold a gay pride parade later this week.

Mayor Moshe Abutbul told Channel 10 in an interview that his city does not have gay people living among its residents.

He said: “We don’t have things like that… thank G-d, this city is holy and pure…”

When asked what should be done about gay people, Mr Abutbul also suggested that either the health ministry or the police could “take care of them.”

He added that “you will hear only good things” from him about Beit Shemesh, which he called a “garden of Eden.”

On Sunday, gay activists responded with a statement saying: “The mayor of Beit Shemesh says that there are no gays in his city. He’s asked the police to deal with this phenomenon.

“Well, we talked to the police, and they’ll deal with us – with a pride parade that we will hold this upcoming Thursday.

“This is the moment to show our power as a community. This is more important than any party, or any march we were in over the summer,” read the announcement, which was circulated on social media networks.”

In 2010, Israeli police rejected a proposed gay pride march through Jerusalem over concerns the selected route would pass by a yeshiva, which is an institution for the study of traditional Jewish texts.

Last month, the Yesh Atid Party in Israel introduced legislation to allow same-sex couples equal rights to straight couples.