If you’re LGBTQ, you’ll be fine in Palestine, right?
I mean, that’s certainly what some folks seem to believe. This week, someone hoisted a banner to that effect at a Canadian university. Here’s what it said, in all caps:
TRANS LIBERATION CAN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT PALESTINIAN LIBERATION
Universities being places of higher learning and all that, it looks like the banner-hoisters maybe forgot the apostrophe in the word “can’t.” So I added it for them.
They must have gotten up on the roof to hang the banner, too, because it’s several stories up. Interesting, that. We’ll come back to that.
Anyway, the banner’s message is clear. If you’re a trans person – if you’re LQBTQ2, too – well, your campaign for liberation is inextricably linked to the liberation of Palestine. Says so, right there on the banner at a place of higher learning.
So, let’s do a fact-check on that one, shall we?
Here’s a short summary of the reality for lesbian, gay, bi, trans, queer and two-spirited folks in Palestine, which is mainly run by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. To avoid any accusations of settler-colonial-genocidal-apartheidish bias, we’ll try and rely on non-Israeli sources, okay?
Okay. Here goes.
• The Palestinian criminal code – still in force, says Human Rights Watch and others – says that anyone who “commits an act of sodomy” faces up to a decade in prison, because it’s “acting against the laws of nature.” So, that’s the law in Palestine, apparently. Not very “liberated,” is it?
• The United Nations – which is otherwise pro-Palestine and always anti-Israel – has intervened on behalf of LGBTQ people facing persecution in Gaza and the West Bank. The UN has resettled these people to Canada, Europe and the United States. This would be the same United Nations that has passed 45 resolutions that condemn, you know, Israel.
• Despite that, a UN committee wasn’t prevented from issuing a report on anti-gay hate in Palestine, however. Said the Human Rights Council: “LGBTQ persons living under Palestinian Authority and Hamas control suffer severe persecution and ostracism. Many Palestinian homosexuals end up fleeing to Israel.” And: “Testimonies from gay Palestinians who managed to escape recount harrowing torture by both family and PA/Hamas security forces, often successful attempts to coerce them to inform on others, forced marriages and death threats, among other things.”
• Likewise, the folks at Amnesty International – who are decidedly against the Jewish state, these days – have agreed that the human rights of LGBTQ people are regularly abused in Palestine. Says Amnesty: “Authorities fail to prevent and investigate homophobic and transphobic threats and attacks.” Most recently, they noted, “[Palestinian] security forces stood by and watched as a mob beat youths and children participating in a parade organized by Ashtar Theatre in Ramallah that included rainbow flags. The attack came amid a wave of incitement to violence and hate speech against LGBTI people and feminists that the authorities failed to investigate.”
• A few years back, an actual Hamas commander, Mahmoud Ishtiwi, was executed. His crime? He was gay. Even though he came from a proud family of Hamas terrorists, even though he commanded 1,000 other homicidal maniacs, three bullets were pumped into his chest. Before that, they tortured him for several days – whipping him, hanging him from the ceiling with wires. Not so liberated.
• Another gay man, Ahmad Abu Marhia, was beheaded for being gay. He’d been seeking asylum in Israel, was kidnapped back to the West Bank, and had his head chopped off. They made sure to videotape that. His murder happened a few weeks before he was going to travel to Canada to start a new life.
• Four gay Palestinian men, and one gay Palestinian woman, recently went public with what they experienced there. One had to enter a fake marriage to avoid persecution and execution. Said this man: “Some have been punished, some have been killed. Others killed themselves. One of my best friends was gay. He took his own life.” There are hundreds of other Palestinians in Israel, seeking asylum, because they believe they will killed if they return to Palestine.
Anyway, you get the picture. It’s not a pretty one. If you are a LGBTQ person, and you relocate to a “liberated Palestine,” you’re a goner.
Which brings us back to the banner, affixed to the UBC student union building, some five floors up.
A bit ironic, that. Because, in Hamas-run Palestine, anyone hanging that banner up near the roof?
They’d be tossed off it.