PA bans LGBTQ activities in West Bank

The ban came after LGBTQ group Al-Qaws was planing to hold a gathering for its members in Nablus.

By
August 19, 2019 00:49
2 minute read.
LGBT flag on Jerusalem's King George Street, July 31, 2018

LGBT flag on Jerusalem's King George Street, July 31, 2018. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The Palestinian Authority banned members of the Palestinian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) community from carrying out any activities in the West Bank.

The ban came after the grassroots group Al-Qaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society (Arabic for “the bow”), which engages and supports Palestinians who identify as LGBTQ, was planning to hold a gathering for its members in Nablus at the end of the month. The group operates both in the West Bank and among Arab-Israelis.

Earlier this month, Al-Qaws held an event in Nablus about sexual and gender diversity in Palestinian society. The PA police, however, learned about the event only days after it was held.

Al-Qaws is a civil society organization established in 2001 with the goal of “fighting for vibrant Palestinian cultural and social change, building LGBTQ communities and promoting new ideas about the role of gender and sexual diversity in political activism, civil society institutions, media, and everyday life.”

The group has offices only in east Jerusalem and Haifa.

Explaining the decision to ban the LGBTQ group from operating in PA-controlled areas, Luay Zreikat, spokesperson for the PA Police, said that such activities are “harmful to the higher values and ideals of Palestinian society.”

Zreikat said that the group’s activities were completely “unrelated to religions and Palestinian traditions and customs, especially in the city of Nablus.”

He accused unnamed “dubious parties” of working to “create discord and harm civic peace in Palestinian society.”

The PA police will chase those behind the LGBTQ group and see to it that they are brought to trial once they are arrested, Zreikat warned. He further appealed to Palestinians to report to the police about any person connected to the group.

In response, Al-Qaws condemned the police threat as “incitement,” and vowed to continue its work despite the serious challenges.

“The Palestinian police announcement about our activities is very unfortunate,” the group said. “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.”

A member of Al-Qaws said that since the police announcement, he and his friends have received hundreds of threats and hate messages from Palestinians, especially through Facebook. “The attack on us is unprecedented,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “They are calling us traitors and corrupt people and many are calling for our execution. We are afraid for our lives.”


Related Content

September 15, 2019
Saudi attacks raise specter of oil at $100 per barrel - analysis

By REUTERS