PA police arrest, harass members of LGTBQ community

Members of the Palestinian LGBTQ community have in recent weeks been violently targeted and harassed by PA officers.

Palestinian Authority police prevent an end-of Ramadan prayer service by supporter of the Hizb-ut Tahrir in Hebron, June 4, 201 (photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA / REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority police prevent an end-of Ramadan prayer service by supporter of the Hizb-ut Tahrir in Hebron, June 4, 201
(photo credit: MUSSA QAWASMA / REUTERS)
The Palestinian Authority’s persecution of the Palestinian LGBTQ community in the West Bank has continued with greater frequency and intensity, notwithstanding protests from human rights organizations, the alQaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society group said on Wednesday.
Members of the Palestinian LGBTQ community have in recent weeks been violently targeted and harassed by PA officers, the group revealed.
“Alarmingly, we have witnessed more than a dozen cases of targeting and harassment that have led to numerous arrests – or rather abductions – in recent weeks,” it said. “We believe there are many more cases that have not reached us.”
In August, the PA police spokesperson issued a statement banning the east Jerusalem-based alQaws’ activities in the West Bank. The statement said that the PA police would prohibit any event organized by the group on the pretext that its activities go against “traditional Palestinian values.”
The PA police called on Palestinians to report any “suspicious” activities and threatened to persecute alQaws staff and activists. The ban came after alQaws held an event in Nablus for its members.
“Although the harassment and persecution disappeared from public discourse, it had not – and still has not – ceased. The violent aftermath of the PA police statement has continued and reached its peak in recent weeks,” alQaws said.
It pointed out that under mounting pressure, the PA police quietly responded to “inquiries” from human rights organizations by saying it has retracted the statement and confirming that alQaws’ work is absolutely legal.
“However, when people demanded the police officially and publicly denounce their statement and affirm the legality of alQaws’s work, the police refused,” the group said. “With the statement not officially stricken from the public record, the violence it called for against LGTBQ people in Palestine has continued – unabated, with greater frequency and intensity, [as] we have witnessed an alarming increase in abuse cases and intensified blackmail and threats in the public and digital spheres, and further entrenched by the legitimizing effect of police sanction.”
According to alQaws, some Palestinian groups have even “celebrated” the PA police’s threat, “raising – yet again – disturbing questions about the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to human rights.”
The Palestinian gay group said that some of its members complained about “military-style investigations involving violence, blackmailing, and interrogations marked by coercive, offensive, and insulting questions regarding private lives, and their connections to alQaws.”
Other members said they faced pressure to collaborate with the PA in order to arrest and persecute their friends.
“This strategy has created threatening conditions for alQaws activists, placing already politically or socially vulnerable individuals at an even greater risk,” the group said. “Recognizing their actions are unjustifiable, and in an attempt to establish a ‘legal’ case, the police have officially arrested and harassed these individuals under the cybercrimes law and other spurious charges.”
The group also accused the PA of restricting its activities by investigating other civil society organizations about their connections with alQaws.
“These tactics have obstructed and had a chilling effect on our work with our society, prompting organizations we have cooperated with to take a step back, and raising broad concerns about the PA police’s willingness and ability to undermine the work of Palestinian civil institutions and society as a whole,” alQaws charged.


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