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Palestinian Voices Condemn Violence Against LGBTQ people

One Collective, Assertive and Responsible Voice: 

Stop Violence Against LGBTQ people in Palestine 

On Friday, July 26th, 2019, a Palestinian teen from the northern village of Tamra (48’ areas) was severely stabbed  by his brother over his suspected gender and sexual identity. The incident took place near an LGBT youth shelter in Tel Aviv. After surgery and spending time in the ICU, thankfully they survived and are now slowly recovering in the hospital. 

Violence against LGBTQ people in Palestine is not a new phenomenon, however this incident marks the first time a crime of such public and dangerous magnitude was directly targeted against LGBTQ Palestinians. alQaws deals on a daily base with many forms of violence against LGBTQ people, from verbal and psychological abuse to physical violence including sexual harassment. However, until this incident, the Palestinian local media, and public opinion rarely covered or openly discussed this violence. This is partly because of the limitation of explicitly intervening or publicly supporting victims of family violence in order to avoid exposing their sexual orientation or gender identity, with many victims preferring ambiguity as a safer option. This attack exposed how complicit our society is in covering up and legitimizing violence against LGBTQ people. Furthermore, this crime and the subsequent social reaction reemphasizes how much the violence against LGBTQ people in Palestine can not be divorced from violence against women or ongoing colonial violence including Pinkwashing. 

The stabbing incident stirred controversy in social media, sparking victim-blaming and verbal abuse. Nevertheless, for the first time, civil society organizations and different political and student movements and activists raised a public voice against society’s collusion with violence perpetrated against LGBTQ people. Motivated by this, the Palestinian queer movement called upon civil society organizations to join arms and release a statement assertively and collectively calling for an end to violence against the LGBTQ people in Palestine. Thirty-seven Palestinian organizations across historical Palestine signed the statement. This broad-based demonstration of collective power comes as a direct result of two decades of tireless efforts led by the Palestinian queer movement, and alQaws’ field-work of community-building and grassroots advocacy.   

Following the statement’s widespread presence on social media and news sites, alQaws and seven other civil society organizations organized a demonstration protesting violence against LGBTQ people. alQaws, in partnership with Adalah, produced and released a short video featuring queer, feminist, and student activists, as well as artists and journalists calling on society to join the protest, encouraging people to take a stand against violence. The video was released on Tuesday, July 30th featuring statements that link social denial about LGBTQ people in Palestine with the violence we face, while other statements called out local media’s complicity with violence, and others focused on the impact of colonial fragmentation on the ability of other queers and allies to attend the demonstration because of Israeli military checkpoints.

On Thursday, August 1st, more than 200 people from all over Palestine demonstrated in Haifa, Palestine. Activists held signs that called for an end to physical and psychological violence against LGBTQ folks, signs that highlighting Pinkwashing as violence against Palestinian society, and other signs that challenged the false narrative of ‘protection’ used in about “gay-haven” Tel Aviv, stating that Palestinian queers do not want to be forced to seek asylum with their occupier, and that the only solution is to commit to collectively building a resilient civil society, one that is strengthened by its sexual and gender diversity.

We are proud of this historic milestone in our society. As we hold the teen and his friends and all victims of violence in our hearts, we are looking forward to strategically leading the next steps of assertively resisting violence and collectively building a free Palestine for all. 

alQaws published several texts and posts in Arabic during the last week. You can read our summary in Arabic  here