This popped up in my twitter stream this morning, retweeted by Jessica Montell of anti-Israeli NGO B’Tselem:
— outaroundproject (@outaround) August 6, 2013
Gay Rights in Palestine? It Could Happen Sooner Than You Think
Oh by the way, Arabs are fighting for LGBT rights too. Today’s spotlight (and my current obsession): Al-Qaws, a Jerusalem-based organization promoting sexual and gender diversity in Palestinian society.
Haneen Maikey, the director of the organization, told the Electronic Intifada in May, “We want to start an honest conversation that can also raise… limitations and tough questions. It’s not to be accepted, but rather to bring the society to a safe place that we can discuss these issues.”
Considering Arab society’s current stance on homosexuality, open discussion of LGBT rights seems like the best place for Al-Qaws to start. There is no doubt that there are homosexuals in the Arab world and that many even live openly. In some countries, same-sex activity is technically legal, though same-sex relationships are not recognized by the state. In other countries, homosexuality is punishable by death. No country, though, has legalized gay marriage.
Al-Qaws aims to fill the gap between what Palestinian society doesn’t know about homosexuality and what it needs to. The organization does this by pushing four main goals:
1. Help build an well-established Palestinian LGBT community dedicated to activism
2. Destabilize social structures that reinforce gendered norms
3. Deepen social awareness and discourse
4. Help develop an alternative vision for sexual and gender identities, one rooted in Palestinian-specific culture and history
The final line, however is a gem:
Al-Qaws hosts a “Palestinian Queer Party” each month. The next will be on August 23, 2013. Location: TBD, Israel. Find more details as they arise here.
That’s right, the only place in “Palestine” you’re going to hold an open “Queer Party” is in… Israel.
I’m told there is a Muslim country which treats gays with as much openness and tolerance as Israel: it’s called Imaginistan. I can’t find it on my world atlas, but I’m sure its out there somewhere.