Palestinians Should Embrace the LGBTQ Community to Better Face Occupation

By Ghadir Al Shafie

A 16-year-old Palestinian boy was stabbed by his two brothers in Tel Aviv because of his sexuality. Like many cases of violence in the Arab community of the 1948 Palestinians, the incident elicited little attention because it was an LGBTQ  attack. This time, Palestinian civil society organizations expressed their solidarity with the victim and strongly condemned the violence against non-conforming individuals of various sexual orientations, calling for a protest on August 1 in the city of Haifa.

What made the protest significant?

This vigil is the first of its kind for Palestinians, expressing an important statement by a sector of Palestinian activists who see personal freedoms, including gender issues, as an integral part of their struggle for collective freedom.

When Palestinians deal with issues that intersect with the occupation, racial discrimination, and persecution based on sexual and gender identity, they don’t just empower the feminist and LGBT movements in the battle to remove these structures of violence and racism, they also engage in these battles. This is the real change for which we must strive.

The details of the stabbing what it means to society

This violence against the LGBTQ community is not new but this is the first time it has taken this dangerous turn and is clearly directed towards someone because of their sexuality with a view to discourage homosexuality.

The peculiarity of this incident is further highlighted by the solidarity of Palestinian civil society at large and clearly signalling its refusal and condemnation of such hate crimes

In addition, some politicians have addressed the issue of gender-based violence against women and transsexuals and the need to confront it. For the first time, we are witnessing objective and responsible media coverage of the event and the participation of media professionals in an initiative launched by civil society, namely, promoting an awareness video that invites people to participate in the protest and explains the importance of combating violence against LGBTQ people.

The role of institutions active in achieving gender justice?

Civil society organizations that deal with gender and sexuality have the responsibility to lead debate on gender and sexuality issues and should be active in creating a liberal Palestinian society which embraces gender diversity and a plurality of sexual identities and fights against all forms of oppression, violence and discrimination.

These institutions aim to enable young activists to unite and challenge stereotypes and change them and present progressive rhetoric that strives for change as well as political and social justice.

The unfortunate incident highlights our responsibility to continue our educational and awareness activities and to strengthen partnerships between the institutions of our society. It also emphasizes the importance of highlighting the intersection of social and political struggles and linking them to fight all forms of repression and violence.