Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism

Statement of QUIT! Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism on the Persecution of Gay Men by the Palestine National Authority

Recently, the queer and mainstream press have reported on three Palestinian gay men who say that they were severely abused and humiliated by Palestinian police. One of the young men reportedly escaped the police, only to be threatened by his own family. They have been living underground in Israel for the last several years, and now Israel is deporting them back to Palestine, where they fear being killed as suspected collaborators.

As queer activists, we condemn the persecution of LGBT people anywhere in the world. This includes Palestine, where many LGBT people experience special oppression living in conservative religious communities, within an oppressed nation.

LAGAI, one of the groups involved in QUIT!, has been actively working for two decades to support queers in north, central and south America, Africa, and Asia. When we first formed, QUIT! took an active role in organizing to support the Egyptian gay men who were arrested in a raid on a gay bar in 2001. We have at times had to struggle for inclusion in the Palestinian solidarity movement, because there were some individuals and groups here who objected to our presence.

We strongly believe that any struggle for liberation has to include queer liberation, because queers are part of all oppressed groups.

However, the story about the three Palestinian men is being used by pro-Israeli gay organizations to suggest that the military occupation of Palestine is justified by anti-gay oppression within Palestinian society. We are outraged by this cynical response to the stories.

Palestine is by no means unique in being a place where gay people are threatened, abused or tortured by the police. It happens in every western society, including in San Francisco. Palestinian queers are also not alone in being in danger in the small conservative towns and villages where their families live, or in being threatened with violence from their own families.

What is unique is that Palestinian queers are prevented from leaving those repressive small towns and from meeting and organizing with other queers by the ever-tightening restrictions on their movement imposed by the Israeli occupation forces. When Israeli soldiers stop young men at checkpoint after checkpoint, telling them no, they cannot travel outside of their villages, they do not ask them if they're gay and need to leave because they fear violence from their families. Israeli police routinely threaten to "out" queer Palestinians if they do not provide information.

The presence of Israeli occupation forces in Palestine does nothing to help and much to hurt LGBT Palestinians.

International law, as repeatedly reaffirmed by the United Nations, recognizes the right of Palestinians to live in any city or town in historic Palestine, including the parts that are now called Israel. This is called the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees. These young men should therefore be able to stay in Israeli cities without asking for asylum. But, under current Israeli law, even if they are granted full Israeli citizenship (which is unlikely), as Palestinians they will be denied equal civil rights with Jews, even Jews who do not live in the country -- they could not own land and they would be ineligible for many social benefits.

In the current situation, it is impossible for queers to have civil rights in the nation of Palestine, because that nation is denied itsright to exist. You cannot have civil rights when you have no human rights. Our support of national liberation for Palestinians is not a quid pro quo for the Palestinian Authority's recognition of queer rights. We support self-determination for all Palestinians, including queer ones, because it is the right of every people.

As people who care about queer rights and all other human rights, we demand:

  1. An immediate end to the military occupation of Palestine and
    evacuation of all illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank
    (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza;
  2. Equal civil and political rights for all in Israel and Palestine;
  3. Israeli compliance with UN Resolution 194, recognizing the right
    of Palestinians to return to their homes;
  4. Until the above are realized, end all U.S. aid to Israel.

We look forward to supporting Palestinian queers in demanding and ensuring the protection of their civil rights in independent Palestine. In the meantime, we certainly would join you in demanding that gay Palestinians be granted refuge and asylum in any country where they choose to live.













? 2002 - QUIT!. Site hosted by quitpalestine.org