HUDSON SQUARE — In the wake of President Barack Obama's endorsement of gay marriage, a group that advocates for Israel is courting west side residents with a massive new mural on gay rights in the Middle East.
A wall-size mural installed on the west side of 111 Leroy St. between Greenwich and Hudson streets compares treatment of LGBT people by Israel and by other countries in the region and asks "Who would you want at your wedding?"
Two figures holding hands on the mural — which is credited to Birthright Israel's New York area alumni group — grip sides of a scale that weighs the pros of gay life in Israel against the cons of gay life in neighboring countries.
In Israel, the mural reads, "Same sex couples can legally adopt children, gay people serve openly in the military and government, and more than 10,000 people celebrated at Tel Aviv’s Pride Parade in 2011."
The other side of the mural, which locals said was installed last weekend, faults other countries in the Middle East for persecuting and discriminating against LGBT people.
"In Iran, homosexuality is a crime punishable by death, there is no pride parade in Egypt, Jordan or Gaza, and homosexuality is illegal in Syria," it reads.
President Obama's endorsement of gay marriage May 9 sparked the creation of the mural, Rebecca Sugar, the director of the tri-state region Birthright Israel Alumni Community told the Foreign Policy Association.
“Members of the gay community need to understand that there is only one country in the Middle East where a free and safe life is available to them – Israel," she said. "We hope that significance is not lost."
The squat Leroy Street building on which the mural is painted is owned by developer KMG Partners, which is planning to build a glass building on the site, their website says.
KMG Partners did not immediately return a request for comment.
Birthright Israel has sent nearly 300,000 Jewish youth on free trips to Israel since 2000, according to their website.