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Police investigate leading LGBT activist Pinkas Arad over rape allegation

Former Tel Aviv councilman accused of forcing himself on former lover in 2016, days after 2 others say he took advantage of them when they were teens

Etai Pinkas Arad speaking at a press conference by the LGBT community in Tel Aviv on July 25, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Etai Pinkas Arad speaking at a press conference by the LGBT community in Tel Aviv on July 25, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Police opened an investigation Friday into a former Tel Aviv city councilman and prominent leader of the city’s thriving gay community after a former lover accused him of forcing himself upon him five years ago.

Etai Pinkas Arad denied the allegations, which were leveled against him by the unnamed accuser in Yedioth Ahronoth earlier this week, coming days after two people said he took advantage of them sexually when they were teenagers.

Pinkas Arad resigned from the Tel Aviv City Council, where he held the LGBT portfolio, in the wake of the first set of allegations.

The police investigation announced Friday pertains to a sexual assault allegation leveled against him by a 41-year-old man identified only by the first Hebrew letter of his name, Dalet.

Dalet told Yedioth that Pinkas Arad raped him when the two met in 2016. The two had a 13-year relationship, but at the time of the alleged rape had not seen each other for two years, according to the account.

“I was raped. I was nude and my back was turned to him. Suddenly, he penetrated me by surprise. The pain was terrible,” Dalet told the paper. “I told him, ‘No, what are you doing?’ I screamed from the pain.”

But Pinkas Arad would not let up, he said.

“He pressed me onto the bed and whispered in my ear, ‘Never say no to me.'”

Protesters for LGBT rights march on Tel Aviv’s Ayalon freeway, July 22, 2018 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Following the publication of the article, Dalet went to the police and filed a complaint.

He told the Haaretz daily he was inspired to come forward with his story after Pinkas Arad claimed to have never forced himself upon a person following allegations last week that he had sex with two teens he met through IGY–Israel Gay Youth, a leading nonprofit organization serving LGBTQ youth in Israel.

IGY’s president, TV personality Gal Uchovsky, stepped down earlier this month amid separate accusations of sexual assault, and was also being investigated by police.

One of the men, identified only as by the Hebrew initial Aleph, told the Ynet news site that although he was 17 and thus over the age of consent at the time of the encounter with Pinkas Arad, and he did not reject the activist’s advances, there had been a clear power imbalance.

LGBT rights activist Etai Pinkas Arad at a press conference at the Knesset, July 11, 2021, after the High Court of Justice ruled that same-sex couples and single men will be able to become surrogate parents within six months. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Pinkas Arad, who was a senior figure in the LGBT community and led fights for recognition of same-sex marriage and surrogacy rights for same-sex families, denied wrongdoing, emphasizing that the teens were over the age of consent.

“The events in question took place more than a decade ago and therefore I do not clearly remember every detail. It is necessary that a sexual encounter be consensual and respectful, even more so with young partners, even if they are over the age of consent, as in this case,” he said.

However, hours after the report was published, he said he was stepping away from his position holding the LGBT portfolio at the Tel Aviv municipality.

“I cannot change the past but I will do everything to change the future,” Pinkas Arad said in a statement last week. “Fifteen years ago, I saw things differently, in a culture that was prevalent in the community, and today it is clear to me that these were acts that should not have happened.”

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