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Queer Palestinian community holds 'historic' protest against LGBT violence

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Haifa on Thursday to protest against LGBT violence, following the stabbing of a transgender Arab teen. ‘The protest represents a voice calling for liberation without restraints – not of the occupiers, and not of the patriarchy.’

Hundreds of Palestinians protested against LGBT violence in Haifa following the stabbing of an Aran transgender teen in Tel Aviv last week. August 1, 2019. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hundreds of Palestinians protested against LGBT violence in Haifa following the stabbing of an Aran transgender teen in Tel Aviv last week. August 1, 2019. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The queer Palestinian community organized an unprecedented protest in Haifa on Thursday, as approximately 200 demonstrators arrived at the German Colony, a central area in the city, to protest violence targeting the LGBT community.

The protest was organized in response to the stabbing of a transgender teen from Tamra, a Palestinian city in northern Israel, outside a shelter for LGBT youth in Tel Aviv last week.

The protest was planned by a group of more than 30 organizations, including alQaws, a civil society group advocating for sexual and gender diversity in Palestinian society; Aswat, a feminist queer movement for sexual and gender freedom for Palestinian women; and Adalah, the legal center for the protection of Palestinian rights in Israel. “We reject and condemn the stabbing of the Tamra teen on the basis of his sexual and gender orientation,” they wrote in a statement released before the protest.

Demonstrators waved pride flags alongside flags representing the transgender community and Palestinian flags. They held signs saying: “Queers against violence and sexual harassment,” and “Silence kills. It’s time we raise our voices.”

“This is a historic moment,” said Widad Assaf, a Palestinian activist at the protest. “Violence against LGBT people occurs all the time, but it took time for people to take to the streets. We hope this won’t stop here,” she added.

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“This is the first-ever protest of the queer Palestinian movement, based on the principles of an intersectional struggle between queer-Palestinian struggles and struggles against the occupation,” said Rula Khalaileh, an organizer with the “Women Against Violence” organization. “The protest represents a voice calling for liberation without restraints – not of the occupiers, and not of the patriarchy. It’s important to show support for all LGBT Palestinians.”

Hundreds of Palestinians protested against LGBT violence in Haifa following the stabbing of an Aran transgender teen in Tel Aviv last week. August 1, 2019. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hundreds of Palestinians protested against LGBT violence in Haifa following the stabbing of an Aran transgender teen in Tel Aviv last week. August 1, 2019. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

“I am pleased with the turnout,” said Jawarah, an activist with the LGBT community. This is the first time that the queer Palestinian community goes out to protest in his 10 years of organizing for LGBT rights, he said. Although Palestinian society can be “close-minded and a bit intolerant of LGBT people,” that a teenager was attacked by his own family members for his sexual identity is rare, he added.

Jawarah explained how, as a queer Palestinian, he is doubly discriminated against. “Arab-Palestinians are already on the margins of society due to the state’s oppression, so a person who also carries a different gender identity – both the government and his own society work against him,” he said.

Hundreds of Palestinians protested against LGBT violence in Haifa following the stabbing of an Aran transgender teen in Tel Aviv last week. August 1, 2019. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hundreds of Palestinians protested against LGBT violence in Haifa following the stabbing of an Aran transgender teen in Tel Aviv last week. August 1, 2019. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

“We are here to protest against all forms of violence and oppression against members of the LGBT community in Arab society,” said Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman – the only member of parliament to join the protest. “We are here to emphasize the personal freedom of each and every person to choose their own life path. This is a historic event. This is the first-ever public protest.”

Only a handful of news outlets covered the event, but according to Khalaileh, the attack itself was covered extensively by Arabic media. “This is the first time that all Arabic media outlets were forced to talk about the issue, and published the statement released by the organizations,” she explained.

The call for protest and the statement were drafted only in Arabic, and one of the protest organizers stressed that this discussion is to be had internally, within the Palestinian community.

On Sunday, about 2,000 protestors marched in south Tel Aviv against transphobia and violence against LGBTs, to mark a year since the killing of a transgender teen. During the protest, Yael Sinai, who manages the LGBT shelter house outside which the Arab teen was stabbed, said that the stabbing was an especially violent incident, but that “it is in no way the only experience of violence that these teens encounter.”

“They have to navigate a public environment that labels us as abnormal. The impact of this hatred is immense. We do everything to ensure they are safe [at the shelter], but we cannot cage them inside four walls. The stabbing is only a peak to the political violence that members of the transgender community face from the Knesset, from the religious establishment, and the local authorities,” she continued.

A version of this article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    COMMENTS

    1. Firentis

      This article is a great peace of journalizing. It mentions the pertinent detail only in passing and via a quote.

      Here is the pertinent detail: The gay Arab teen was stabbed by his own brother.

      And of course professional anti-Israel organizations try to turn this into some kind of intersectional protest against Israel. Quelle surprise.

      Reply to Comment
      • Sam

        This should be obvious to you. This rag is Hamas propaganda, nothing more.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Brian Cohen

      972 fails as always, of course, to mention that this type of protest is not allowed to take place in the west bank or Gaza, where gays would be beaten by the police and arrested.
      The protest took place in Israel, not Palestine. Palestine does not tolerate this type of western progressive liberalism.
      It’s time that western progressive liberals wake up to that fact and either take action against the Palestinian governments (the two separate governments in Ramallah and Gaza City), or shut up.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        Those like the pinkwashers Firentis & Cohen are forever lambasting +972 for airing only Jews’ not Arabs’ dirty laundry. But +972 has many times confronted anti-progressive, misogynistic, homophobic problems in both societies (read almost anything by Samah Salaime). You see, +972 Magazine would like the whole region to move in a progressive direction, but that is the very last thing those like Firentis & Cohen want. They treasure the base of anti-progressive forces in Palestinian Arab society, just as they, like Netanyahu, secretly love the Hamas, who form the convenient cartoon villain background against which the Pinkwashing Propaganda Works of the Occupation Apologists has a merry time of it.

        You gotta love Brian Cohen’s “take action against the Palestinian governments”–as if the entire brutal occupation and all its intricate, interlocking, sophisticated array of Israeli military, intelligence, police, propaganda, university research, armaments industry, legal and prison arms were not one long, sustained 50-year action against Palestinian self-government.

        Reply to Comment
        • Lewis from Afula

          Yes Ben:
          Israel is guilty of pink-washing.
          It is also guilty of democracy-washing, equal rights of women-washing, minority rights-washing, virtually free heathcare-washing, right to strike-washing,

          In contrast, your Arab World (even modern parts of it) does not wash anything.

          Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            No one ever accused Israel of equal rights for Jews and non-Jews-washing, or we don’t sell arms to bloody dictators including the South African apartheid regime, all the while complaining about terror-washing, or we don’t steal-washing, or we don’t burn olive trees-washing, or we don’t lock up little kids and not tell their parents or let them call their parents-washing, or we don’t shoot demonstrators-washing…. Etc. And no one ever accused the Israeli religious right of equal rights of women-washing.

            Reply to Comment
          • Lewis from Afula

            Yes, Israel should definitely atone for its pink washing.
            Israel must make homosexuality illegal so that it conforms with Middle Eastern norms.
            Then the Loony Leftists like Ben will be happy…..

            As Spock would say,
            Its life, Jim.
            But NOT as we know it.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            You sound like someone is asking you to “atone” for wearing a mask while you rob banks. No one is asking you to atone for wearing a mask. Just stop robbing banks.

            Reply to Comment
    3. Eric

      “Hundreds of Palestinians protested against LGBT violence” — says the thrice-repeated caption, repeating the headline’s phrasing.

      But the story concerns only anti-LGBT violence with no mention of LGBT violence. Are 972’s editors confused about the source of violence?

      Reply to Comment