The Israeli Minister of Internal Affairs has denounced the mayor of Beit Shemesh after he recently claimed his city doesn’t have “things” like gay people because it is “holy and pure.”

Gideon Sa’ar said at a conference of Israeli mayors: “I denounce and condemn this statement, which represents an outrageous, backwards perception.

“As mayors, you are public leaders elected directly by the people. This requires a responsible approach in your actions and speech.”

The mayor, Moshe Abutbul, insisted last week that there were no gay people in his city and suggested that if there were, it was the responsibility of the Health Ministry and the police to “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.”