Tuesday, November 24, 2020

PA police ban Palestinian LGBTQ organisation and threaten to arrest members

By Patty Diphusa - August 19, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Human rights]

Palestinian Authority (PA) police have banned Palestinian LGBT rights group al-Qaws from organising any activities in the West Bank and threatened to arrest members, stating their activities conflict with “values of Palestinian society.”

On August 17, spokesperson for the PA police Louai Irzegat released a statement regarding al-Qaws, declaring the PA police will shut down any activity organised by the NGO. 

The information was revealed by the organisation the following day on their official Instagram and Facebook accounts.

The police accused al-Qaws of being 'foreign agents’ which undermine 'traditional Palestinian values’. The release furthermore called on citizens to present information about any 'suspicious’ activities to persecute the organization’s staff and activists.

Al-Qaws for Gender and Sexual Diversity in Palestinian Society has been working since 2001 in all of historical Palestine to “challenge patriarchal, capitalist and colonial oppression”. The group reminded their audience in a Facebook post that “for two decades, al Qaws has worked tirelessly to combat the violence of the Israeli occupation as well as social violence against LGBT Palestinians as part of our vision for a liberated Palestine”.

Following the PA police statement, al-Qaws issued an official response condemning the “use of prosecution, intimidation, and threats of arrest, be it by the police or members of society”, stressing that they have always been “public and accessible” about their work. 

The release continued, suggesting that “the police and Palestinian society at large should focus on combatting the occupation and other forms of violence that tear apart the sensitive fabric of our society and values, instead of prosecuting activists who work tirelessly to end all forms of violence”.

The group has received both online threats and great support of fellow activists in Palestine, the region and beyond. However, due to security concerns, the names of those who are standing together with al-Qaws through their online activism are not to be published at this stage.

The police statement was issued in the wake of recent events making visible the double oppression queer Palestinians face: not only do they live under illegal Israeli occupation but also face stigma and prosecution by the Palestinian administration. 

Earlier this month the NGO had held a discussion-based activity in Nablus, and on 1 August, several Palestinian civil society organisations attended a public manifestation in Haifa condemning the stabbing of a queer Palestinian by his brother over his suspected gender and sexual identity. 

In a press release on occasion of the mobilisation, al-Qaws stressed the need to end violence against LGBTQ individuals, denouncing pink-washing as violence against Palestinian society and rejecting 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”.

The NGO requested the police and its spokesperson Louai Irzegat to “read and educate themselves on the values and the work of al-Qaws”. They finally asserted that they will carry on their work for a liberated Palestine “despite colonial barriers and threats of prosecution, in the hopes of expanding the discussion around sexual and gender diversity”.



Lead image source: Times of Israel/AP

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