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U.S. Representatives Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN) react as they discuss travel restrictions to Palestine and Israel during a news conference at the Minnesota State Capitol Building in St Paul, Minnesota, August 19, 2019.(Photo by: CAROLINE YANG/REUTERS)
Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib respond to Palestinian Authority's LGBTQ ban
"Right wing media asking us about this, can you listen up and amplify it correctly!" wrote Rep. Omar.
Controversial Democratic Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib responded on Monday to reports that the Palestinian Authority has banned LGBTQ activities within the West Bank, sharing a post by Al-Qaws - the Palestinian LGBTQ group that led to the ban - which listed "five ways to support" the community.

The two congresswomen were barred from visiting Israel last week for promoting a boycott of Israel.

The post by Al-Qaws condemned the PA's decision while also blaming Israel's "occupation of our land and bodies" as part of the issue that Palestinian members of the LGBTQ community face.

"Pretending that this act somehow balances or mitigates Israel violating the dignity & rights of Palestinians - or undermines case for defending Palestinian rights - is deplorable!" Omar tweeted earlier, in response to a post about the ban.

"LGBTQ rights are human rights and we should condemn any effort to infringe upon them. But we should also condemn any effort to equate this with the occupation or use this as a distraction."

The US congresswoman, who has used Twitter to share numerous anti-Israel tweets as well as antisemitic tropes, had been called out by numerous people to respond to the news regarding the Palestinian Authority.

"Right wing media asking us about this, can you listen up and amplify it correctly!" wrote Omar along with the post.

The post by Al-Qaws lists five ways to "support Palestinian queers." It includes a call to "realize that colonialism, patriarchy and homophobia are all connected forms of oppression" and to "steer clear of pinkwashing" as a necessary part of reporting on the issue.

"Pinkwashing" is a term used to denote a country using gay rights as an attempt to promote itself.

As part of the call to recognize the forms of oppression, the group writes that "singling out incidents of homophobia in Palestinian society ignores the complexities of Israel's colonization and military occupation being a contributing factor to Palestinian LGBTQ oppression."

"We have been living under more than seven decades of Israel's military occupation," the group writes. "We see the Israeli occupation of our land and bodies as connected to and amplifying the diverse forms of oppression experienced in every society around the globe."

By steering "clear on pinkwashing," the post warns that "perpetuating tiresome tropes of presenting Palestinians as inherently oppressive and Israel as a liberal state that protects LGBTQ rights is counter-productive and factually baseless."

"Israel is a settler-colonial state that offers no rights to Palestinians, queer or otherwise," the group asserts. "Our struggle as queer Palestinians is against Israeli colonialism as much as it is against homophobia and patriarchy in Palestine. Israel uses pinkwashing tactics to lie about 'saving' LGBTQ Palestinians from their society."

Israel hosts one of the largest Pride Parades in the world annually, and Tel Aviv has been voted the world’s "Best Gay City” by and “The Most Gay-Friendly City in the World” by Wow Travel. Some 250,000 people attended this year's parade.

The PA's 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.

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.”

Sydney Dennen and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.
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