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February 20, 2013

Where's the Coverage? LGBT Community Suffers in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority

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Here we go again.

The Jewish Daily Forward is reporting that New York’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center is going to allow a talk by gay professor and novelist Sarah Schulman about her new book that criticizes Israel, reversing a policy that had barred events about Israel.

Anybody who really cares about the rights of the LGBT community already knows that Israel is the best place in the Middle East for members to express themselves, that Tel Aviv was voted the Best Gay Travel Destination, that it boasts Asia’s largest gay pride parade, and that parade is the only gay pride parade in the world that is part of the official municipal schedule, produced by the city and government-funded. (To see a video on Israel’s gay scene, click here.) The government of Israel even funds LGBTQ Birthright trips.

British journalist Chas Newkey-Burden describes Israel’s gay-friendly climate:

Workplace discrimination against gay people is outlawed; the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) has many openly gay members; in schools, teenagers learn about the difficulties of being gay and the importance of treating all sexualities equally. The country’s army, the Israel Defence Force has many dozens of openly gay high-ranking officers who, like all gay soldiers in its ranks, are treated equally by order of the government. The Supreme Court has ruled that gay couples are eligible for spousal and widower benefits. The country has many gay football teams. Nearly all mainstream television dramas in Israel regularly feature gay storylines. When transsexual Dana International won the 1998 Eurovision Song Contest as Israel’s representative, 80 per cent of polled Israelis called her "an appropriate representative of Israel."

Despite these facts, Schulman authored the controversial New York Times Op-Ed “Israel and ‘Pinkwashing,’” about which CAMERA reported:

Not only does [Schulman] insist Israel shouldn't be praised for its tolerance, she also suggests Muslims or Palestinians shouldn't be criticized for mistreating gays. And those reading the piece would be forgiven for concluding that such mistreatment is not really an issue, and that the worst that can happen to a homosexual in the Middle East is being temporarily held up at an Israeli security checkpoint.

But of course that is not the worst thing that can happen. In 2010, The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association issued a report entitled “State-sponsored Homophobia”. They report on the penal code in Gaza:

Criminal Code Ordinance of 1936 54 Section 152 Unnatural offences “(2) Anyone who: (a) commits sexual intercourse with another person against the order of nature, or (b) commits sexual intercourse with an animal, or (c) permits or allows the above mentioned acts is considered to have committed a felony punishable by imprisonment for a term of ten years.”

Even ten years in prison for homosexuality is not the worst that can happen to a gay man in Gaza. Last year, the Hamas-run regime executed a gay man.

Gay Palestinians regularly seek to escape to Israel. In considering a case where a gay Palestinian man sought asylum, the Israeli High Court of Justice ordered the state to take into consideration the degree to which his life would be at risk due to his sexual orientation, should he be returned to the West Bank. According to a Ha’aretz report:

The Palestinian is asking for permission to remain in Israel because he fears for his life if he is expelled to the Palestinian Authority.

Speaking to Haaretz, he said that "in other times, when they brought me to the roadblock the entire village chased me and beat me, and nearly killed me. I prefer to sit in prison than to go back."

The San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2007 – 2007! – that “West Bank gays more at home in Israel”, describing one West Bank man’s life:

A 21-year-old university student with serious professional ambitions, Nawal wouldn't dream of performing [his drag show] in his hometown, where homosexuality, as in the rest of the Palestinian territories, is strictly taboo, sometimes violently so. Last year, a group of gay Palestinians visiting East Jerusalem from the United States were threatened and one of them badly beaten after they announced plans to join an Israeli gay pride rally. The Web site of ASWAT, an organization of Palestinian gay women, says Palestinian society "has no mercy for sexual diversity and/or any expression of 'otherness' away from the societal norms and the assigned roles that were formed for women. ... The Palestinian woman has no right to choose an identity other than the one enforced on her by the male figures in her family and surroundings."

So for Nawal and his friends, the only place where they can pursue a full social life is across the border in Israel.

But Schulman and others who put anti-Israelism ahead of LGBT rights don’t care. They would rather use their activism to demonize Israel than to fight regimes that harass, oppress, brutalize or even execute members of the LGBT community.

And the media are doing nothing to expose this shameful betrayal nor are they shedding light on the brutality of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority toward gay, bisexual, trans-sexual and others. Years of virtual silence on this issue. Come on… Where’s the coverage?

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VERSUS


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Posted by SC at February 20, 2013 06:28 PM

Comments

As someone with no dog in the LGBT fight I have to say if this is good enough for Sarah Shulman it's good enough for me. Lock them all up and kill every third one. If that's what 'freedom fighting against the Zionist devil' calls itself, then fine.' Send Sarah Shulman to Gaza to oversee that executions are carried out in the appropriately Israel hating fashion.

Posted by: Empress Trudy at February 21, 2013 04:24 PM

Total crap gays are free in gaza!!!
Homosexuality is welcome in Gaza!
Why would Stephen Fry sign his name in support of Us living in Palestine?

Posted by: torraance at January 7, 2014 11:55 AM

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