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Queer Palestinians gather in Haifa calling for safety and liberation

Press Release
Queer Palestinians gather in Haifa calling for safety and liberation 

On Wednesday, July 29th, alQaws for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society along with other queer and feminist Palestinian organizations will hold a protest in occupied Haifa to raise our voices against the patriarchal, colonial, and capitalist oppressions on LGBT and queer Palestinians, and to demand an end to violence against our bodies and lives. 

Since August 2019, a seismic upheaval has torn apart the veil of silence that once shrouded the issue of sexual and gender diversity in Palestine. LGBT and queer Palestinians have offered up a revolutionary challenge to the status quo: the era of polite societal denial of our existence is ending. This is in large part due to over two decades of community and movement building efforts led by Palestinian LGBT and queer groups.

The shift in social discussions became visible after a series of violent episodes against alQaws’ communities and queer Palestinians. Each incident we faced shed light on the collusion of patriarchal, colonial, and capitalist violence: from the protest organized by alQaws and other partner organizations and allies last August in response to the stabbing of a queer Palestinian youth, to the ban on alQaws’ activities in the occupied West Bank by the Palestinian Authority and the persecution of our activists, to the most recent debates surrounding a Palestinian business firm’s questionable donation to a colonial Israeli LGBTQ organization.

Discussions exploring sexual and gender diversity have spread broadly and can no longer be ignored or denied. Nor are they limited to specific groups in our society. These discussions have stormed our homes, our workplaces, and even our political and social spaces, making this one of the most controversial questions in Palestine. Yet the most consistent aspect of our visibility and the current debates remains the violence against LGBT and queer Palestinians. We have witnessed unprecedented physical and psychological violence on social media and beyond, reflecting various forms of homophobia and transphobia, often expressed through outdated and harmful myths and misconceptions that work to yet again demonize and exclude us from our own society, to control our bodies and repress our desires.

The struggle to combat societal and state violence against the queer movement in Palestine unfolds on a complex terrain, structured by a settler-colonial power that denies Palestinian freedom and decolonization, and exacerbated by an economic system that exploits and degrades us. These violent foundations give rise to the “pinkwashing” narrative which opportunistically weaponizes our own pain against us, both on the global stage and within our communities. We stand in fierce opposition to the colonizing force that erases our struggle, then uses us as a fig-leaf for its oppression by claiming to be our salvation. From under this double-sided boot heel, we must now also contend with the public health crisis ushered in by a global pandemic, which has only exacerbated existing power disparities and oppressive dynamics.

In the midst of this, we take a stand to make our voices heard and demand the radical transformation of our society. We rage against the patriarchal violence exerted on our bodies in our streets and in our homes. We rage against structures of familial control over our desires and gender expression. We rage against the oppressive norms that dictate our collective shame around gender and sexuality. We rage against our marginalization and erasure by colonial narratives. In doing so, we raise the rallying cry for our own liberation—and the liberation of all Palestinians.

For Arabic read here.
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