Statement of QUIT! Queers Undermining
Israeli Terrorism on the Persecution of Gay Men
by the Palestine National Authority
Recently, the queer and mainstream
press have reported on three Palestinian gay men
who say that they were severely abused and humiliated
by Palestinian police. One of the young men reportedly
escaped the police, only to be threatened by his
own family. They have been living underground in
Israel for the last several years, and now Israel
is deporting them back to Palestine, where they fear
being killed as suspected collaborators.
As queer activists, we condemn the
persecution of LGBT people anywhere in the world.
This includes Palestine, where many LGBT people experience
special oppression living in conservative religious
communities, within an oppressed nation.
LAGAI, one of the groups involved
in QUIT!, has been actively working for two decades
to support queers in north, central and south America,
Africa, and Asia. When we first formed, QUIT! took
an active role in organizing to support the Egyptian
gay men who were arrested in a raid on a gay bar
in 2001. We have at times had to struggle for inclusion
in the Palestinian solidarity movement, because there
were some individuals and groups here who objected
to our presence.
We strongly believe that any struggle
for liberation has to include queer liberation, because
queers are part of all oppressed groups.
However, the story about the three
Palestinian men is being used by pro-Israeli gay
organizations to suggest that the military occupation
of Palestine is justified by anti-gay oppression
within Palestinian society. We are outraged by this
cynical response to the stories.
Palestine is by no means unique in
being a place where gay people are threatened, abused
or tortured by the police. It happens in every western
society, including in San Francisco. Palestinian
queers are also not alone in being in danger in the
small conservative towns and villages where their
families live, or in being threatened with violence
from their own families.
What is unique is that Palestinian
queers are prevented from leaving those repressive
small towns and from meeting and organizing with
other queers by the ever-tightening restrictions
on their movement imposed by the Israeli occupation
forces. When Israeli soldiers stop young men at checkpoint
after checkpoint, telling them no, they cannot travel
outside of their villages, they do not ask them if
they're gay and need to leave because they fear violence
from their families. Israeli police routinely threaten
to "out" queer Palestinians if they do
not provide information.
The presence of Israeli occupation
forces in Palestine does nothing to help and much
to hurt LGBT Palestinians.
International law, as repeatedly reaffirmed
by the United Nations, recognizes the right of Palestinians
to live in any city or town in historic Palestine,
including the parts that are now called Israel. This
is called the Right of Return of Palestinian refugees.
These young men should therefore be able to stay
in Israeli cities without asking for asylum. But,
under current Israeli law, even if they are granted
full Israeli citizenship (which is unlikely), as
Palestinians they will be denied equal civil rights
with Jews, even Jews who do not live in the country
-- they could not own land and they would be ineligible
for many social benefits.
In the current situation, it is impossible for queers to have civil rights
in the nation of Palestine, because that nation is denied itsright to exist.
You cannot have civil rights when you have no human rights. Our support
of national liberation for Palestinians is not a quid pro quo for the Palestinian
Authority's recognition of queer rights. We support self-determination
for all Palestinians, including queer ones, because it is the right of
As people who care about queer rights and all other human rights, we demand:
An immediate end to the military
occupation of Palestine and
evacuation of all illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank
(including East Jerusalem) and Gaza;
Equal civil and political rights
for all in Israel and Palestine;
Israeli compliance with UN Resolution
194, recognizing the right
of Palestinians to return to their homes;
Until the above are realized,
end all U.S. aid to Israel.
We look forward to supporting Palestinian queers in demanding and ensuring
the protection of their civil rights in independent Palestine. In the meantime,
we certainly would join you in demanding that gay Palestinians be granted
refuge and asylum in any country where they choose to live.