Here are five ways you can support Palestinian queers, according to LGBT+ group Al-Qaws
The Palestinian Authority has banned LGBT+ groups from carrying out activities in the West Bank.
Palestinian Authority (PA) police also issued an official statement on August 18 encouraging members of the public to report on the activities of LGBT+ groups.
Palestinian LGBT+ group Al-Qaws says that the PA police statement “promotes incitement against Al-Qaws” and followed an “unprecedented” attack on the group via its social-media channels.
Al-Qaws had been planning a “queer camp” for the end of August in Nablus, northern West Bank.
“The statement promotes incitement against Al-Qaws – and LGBTQ Palestinians – by encouraging members of society to report on Al-Qaws activities. Al-Qaws has since denounced such fear-mongering by Palestinian authorities,” the group said in an online statement.
“Al-Qaws has refused the ban on its activities and noted it will continue its work to fight patriarchy, colonialism and homophobia across historical Palestine,” the statement said.
While LGBT+ activities are officially banned in the West Bank, Al-Qaws has suggested five ways to support Palestinian queers.
“We are constantly talked about but our voices are rarely heard,” said Al-Qaws.
“When reporting on issues that pertain to LGBTQ Palestinians, just ask yourself: whose voice does this story centre?”
“Come talk to us and hear our perspective. Do not simply copy and paste translated Hebrew/Israeli media to tell our story. Al-Qaws activists and staff always provide our names when interviewed, so if you read an article/post with a claimed quote from us with no name attributed, you should know it is not from us.”
“Singling out incidents of homophobia in Palestinian society ignores the complexities of Israel’s colonisation and military occupation being a contributing factor to Palestinian LGBTQ oppression,” Al-Qaws said.
“We ask that you situate Palestinian LGBTQ oppression within the larger context of Israeli occupation, colonialism, patriarchy and homophobia.”
“Perpetuating tiresome tropes of presenting Palesitnians as inherently oppressive and Israel as a liberal state that protects LGBTQ rights is counter-productive and factually baseless,” Al-Qaws said.
“Our struggle as queer Palestinians is against Israeli colonialism as much as it is against homophobia and patriarchy in Palestine.”
“Israel uses pink-washing tactics to lie about ‘saving’ LGBTQ Palestinians from their society. We ask that you steer away from these lies that are intentionally used to justify their colonisation of Palestine.”
Understand that Al-Qaws’ priority is community organising.
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“We are a small team of dedicated activists who believe change comes from working within our local context,” said Al-Qaws.
“We put enormous daily and strategic efforts in our local grassroots advocacy organising in Palestine. Therefore, and especially in such a crisis, we prioritise providing education and safety to our communities first.”
Support Al-Qaws’ work. Practically, this includes following them on social media and sharing their resources.
“We believe in the power of people to make social change possible,” Al-Qaws said.
“Talk to your friends and family about the importance of standing up against bigotry towards LGBTQ people, and make sure that your vision of liberation and freedom in Palestine includes us all.”