Aswat Statement

We Parade to the Wall: World Pride under Occupation 2006

In Israel, religious groups are expressing opposition to the World Pride to be held in Jerusalem in August 2006. At the same time, international radical left wing groups are calling to boycott this parade as a general call of divestment from Israel on behalf of its crimes of occupation against the Palestinian people.

As Palestinian LGBTQI’s who live under the occupation, and as Palestinian LGBTQI’s who are part of a national minority in Israel, we are opposing this attempt to hold the international pride parade in Israel, particularly in Jerusalem, the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As the pride parade will be a time for the gay and lesbian community in Israel to celebrate, Palestinians in Eastern occupied Jerusalem will continue to suffer under intensified checkpoints, increasing racism, house demolishing, confiscating IDs and expanding of Israeli settlements.Therefore, ASWAT- Palestinian gay Women group decided not to take part in the World Pride 2006.

Even though, the state of Israel holds a tolerant stance towards gays and lesbians, it uses this opportunity to show the world that in Israel a gay man can also be a soldier. However, being a soldier in an occupying oppressive army does not do justice to our quest for peace and tolerance. This is an insult to our struggle for freedom and tolerance. In Israel, violence and hatred are articulated through homophobia and xenophobia, and this very same violence is evident in racism, occupation and war crimes.

In June 2002 Israel began building a wall that aims to separate Israel from the Palestinian population, however, the wall invades the heart of Palestinian localities, separating families and imprisoning them into ghettos. The wall is mostly built on the Palestinian lands, hence, constantly legitimizing the confiscation of large portions of Palestinian land, damaging the very weave of Palestinian life.

In both the first Intifada as well as the current one, Palestinian gays who escaped from their homes, find themselves working in the General Security Services in Israel (Shabak), where the Shabak took advantages of their situations and manipulated them to cooperate with Israeli intelligence. Eventually the Shabak returned many of them to Palestine where their rights were violated without due process.

In August, tens of thousands of gays and lesbians are going to arrive to Israel to “celebrate” their “pride”. Closure, Checkpoints, Wall, and Drawn Weapons; these are the ways that Israel is promising to maintain security for its citizens and visitors. At the same time that we celebrate our pride, the Palestinians are going to suffer and be under curfew. Furthermore, many of the LGBTQI’s from the Arab world are denied access to Israel and the world pride parade.

Thousands of gays and lesbians will celebrate in Jerusalem with the motto love without borders, and we demand to put an end to occupation, hatred, racism and break the apartheid wall.  

ASWAT, Palestinian Gay Women’s Group, will not participate in the World pride events and will not march in the Parade; Aswat invites everyone who is already coming to Jerusalem to join the alternative action the Parade to the Wall. 
ASWAT – Palestinian gay women

The mission of the ASWAT initiative is to serve as a Palestinian gay women’s group where we may express ourselves, discuss gender and sexuality, define our feminism, and address the conflict experienced by us between our national and gendered identities. The ASWAT group provides a safe space for any Palestinian woman who identifies as lesbian, bi-sexual, transsexual, transgender or inter-sexual, where we can break our individual silence through dialogue, self-education, healing and activism. In addition, we strive to generate social change in order to meet the needs of one of the most silenced and oppressed communities in Israel. We work to reach out to Palestinian and Jewish communities in Israel, and also to collaborate with other like minded institutes, groups and individuals in order to combat the multilayered discrimination we face and to promote women rights.

Learn more about Aswat by going to the Aswat website

Helem Statement

Jerusalem World Pride 2006: No Pride in Occupation

World Pride is a global event that aims to bring together sexual minorities from all over the world in order to protest the continued discrimination and violence that they face legally, culturally, politically, and socially. Helem, Lebanese Protection for LGBT, supports the rights of all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people to love and live in freedom, and to demonstrate publicly to demand their rights. However, this July 2006, the unfortunate decision was made to hold World Pride in Jerusalem under the slogan “Love without Borders”.

Helem supports the global movement to boycott Jerusalem World Pride 2006 as part of the international boycott of, and divestment from Israel. Helem strongly condemns holding World Pride in a city beleaguered by violence and conflict, and where the words “Love without Borders” belie a reality of separation, ubiquitous borders, destruction of homes and livelihoods, land theft, gross human rights violations, and the apartheid policies of Israel.

Human rights are universal, indivisible, and interdependent, and the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders should not be placed in competition with the long struggle of the Palestinian people, including Palestinian LGBT people, for self-determination, for the right to return to their homes, and the struggle against apartheid and the occupation of their lands. Helem recognizes that all human rights violations are interconnected and that an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. The fight for the rights of sexual minorities is therefore inextricably tied into the fight for all human liberation.

We would also like to state our support of the initiative organized by Aswat (Palestinian Gay Women) and other progressive Palestinian and international organizations, who offered an open invitation to those who decide to come to Jerusalem for World Pride to speak with LGBT Palestinians, visit unrecognized and demolished Palestinian villages, meet with anti-occupation activists, and join an alternative parade demonstrating against the apartheid wall. 

Statement: Helem leads a peaceful struggle for the liberation of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community in Lebanon from all sorts of legal, social and cultural discrimination.

Go to Helem’s website to learn more about Helem



Apartheid Pride? No Thanks!

Op-Ed in BAR (Bay Area Reporter) of San Francisco - May 12, 2005

The Board of Supervisors voted to endorse World Pride Jerusalem. This has effectively taken sides in an international conflict of fundamental importance to people of our community. Where was public comment?

Queer people from around the world have been invited to lend our endorsement of and moral support to the dispossession and disappearance of an entire people, the Palestinian people. Well-intentioned people of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer communities are invited to cross an international picket line. We are asked to journey to Jerusalem in August of this year for World Pride 2005 to celebrate in a march whose theme is Love Without Borders. 

What is not said is that the march is taking place in a city that has a 25-foot concrete wall running through its center. LGBTIQ people are asked to break a boycott called because Jerusalem is occupied in violation of the same international laws that condemn the occupation of Iraq by the United States and Great Britain.

Palestinian queers who live just 10 minutes away from where this march begins will be stopped at military checkpoints from joining this celebration. They will not be allowed to participate in a festival in the city in which many of their parents were born. LGBTIQ people are invited to celebrate Pride in Jerusalem unless we are Muslim, or unless we are from the Middle East, because most people in the Middle East are automatically excluded from Israel. In a moment of ecumenical hatred Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious leaders have come together to denounce a queer event being held in a Jerusalem they claim as sacred. 

Here in the United States we are not unfamiliar with religious bigots. They occupy the highest and the lowest posts of government. Hatemongers persecute us as queers us because we live and love and are fabulous. They dance on the graves of our loved ones murdered by their holy hatred. Every day they attempt to exorcise us from this world. And every day we resist they fail. The struggle for queer liberation has given the world instances of marvel and beauty. It is a terrible thing to see the results of our beautiful struggle stolen and sullied and used to justify the oppression of all Palestinians, queer and straight, for the simple fact of living and loving and being fabulous as Palestinians. 

It is claimed that Israel is the only place in the Middle East where it is ok to be queer, with the implication that straight Arabs are somehow more homophobic than everybody else in this world. Neither Gwen Araujo nor Matthew Shepard ever set foot in the Middle East. Straight people hate us here and everywhere with a murderous equality. The government of Israel is not building a wall around an entire country because it is attempting to create a queer safe space. It is stealing more and huge sections of land. 

We live in a troubled world. Words like genocide and ethnic cleansing are used far too often for decent people to like. For those of us who strive for social justice, victories can sometimes seem few and far between. At the same time the state of Israel was being created by forcibly expelling 700,000 Palestinians and by confiscating Palestinian land, the white-supremacist National Party was coming to power in South Africa. The decades-long struggle for the liberation of South Africa is one of those moments of victory. 

The campaign to divest from and boycott of apartheid South Africa was a unifying factor for people around the globe. Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela have said that Israeli apartheid is similar to, and in some ways more oppressive than apartheid South Africa. In Israel, a group of academics have joined the call to boycott. Allow us to remind you that the divestment movement against South African apartheid started precisely in the same way, with small groups applying democratic pressure on their local authorities.

Jerusalem Open House (JOH), the local sponsor for World Pride 2005 describes itself as a grassroots, activist organization of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) people who live in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. Its mission statement says it will advocate for social change on issues of concern to our constituents, taking action to promote the values of tolerance and coexistence.??JOH has a Palestinian Outreach Initiative to reach out to LGBT Palestinians from the greater Jerusalem area.

Jerusalem Open House has to demand that the government of Israel open the checkpoints which riddle the greater Jerusalem area and allow all Palestinian queers to come and celebrate World Pride.

Queers Undermining Israel Terrorism (QUIT!) supports the work of Jerusalem Open House in fighting queer oppression. We respect that LGBTIQ people and organizations within Israel and Palestine will decide for themselves how to relate to World Pride. We also know that queer Palestinians cannot be free until all Palestinians are free. Therefore, we ask queer people internationally to honor the travel boycott of Israel and not attend World Pride 2005 in Jerusalem.

Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism (QUIT!)