September 19, 2019

PA Bans LGBTQ Group’s Activities

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a meeting with the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank July 25, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

The Palestinian Authority (PA) police banned a Palestinian LGBTQ group from conducting activities in the West Bank, announcing in an Aug. 17 statement the group’s activities are against “the higher principles and values of Palestinian society.”

PA police spokesman Luay Zreikat said in the statement that the Al Qaws for Sexual and Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society’s upcoming “Queer Camp” in Nablus on Aug. 30-31 are part of an effort to “create discord and harm civic peace in Palestinian society.” He added that anyone with information about the group’s activities should come forward and that the police will be going after Al Qaws members.

Al Qaws responded with an Aug. 18 statement that read, “It’s very strange that they are accusing us of being a suspicious entity working to take apart Palestinian society. Al Qaws is a Palestinian organization that has been operating since 2001, and is carrying out educational and professional programs on sexual and gender diversity. We totally reject the attempt to create an atmosphere of prosecution and intimidation, as well threats of arrest.”

Various members of the LGBTQ organization told the Times of Israel and Jerusalem Post that they have been subjected to online harassment following the PA’s announcement; however, Al Qaws Director Haneen Maiki told Ultra Palestine that the group would continue operating in the West Bank in a cautious manner.

Jerusalem Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum invited Al Qaws to host their camp in her city “or closer to home in one of the Jewish community centers in Judea and Samaria. This should not be happening to you and Israel stands with you.”

Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper called on LGBTQ groups worldwide to condemn the PA for its attempt to crack down on Al Qaws.

“Memo to LGBTQ leadership-will you denounce Palestinian Authority’s repression of gays or double down on Palestinian narrative to ALWAYS blame Israel?” Cooper said.

Progressive Zionist and LGBTQ activist Hen Mazzig tweeted, “This is horrible. Speak up @RashidaTlaib. Speak up.”