Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Creating a safe space for the Palestinian LGBTQ community

By Henry James - March 20, 2018
Section: [Main News] [Culture]
Tags: [culture]

On March 16, the first queer and feminist open mic was held at Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center, initiated by Guerrilla Resistance and in collaboration with Al Qaws.  

Al Qaws is at the forefront of Palestinian cultural and social change, supporting LGBTQ communities and promoting new ideas about the role of gender and sexual diversity in political activism, civil society, institution, and everyday life.
The purpose of the Open Mic event was to offer people a safe space to exprime themselves and to share their story through lectures and poetry.
Palestinian Queer Activist Abdullah Hassan Erikat told Palestine Monitor this space was created for people to bring their entities that challenges the taboo, the stereotypes and the mix of socio-political discourses.
Through written and spoken word, they wanted people to use this kind of space to say something they usually won’t say.
According to Erikat, it’s important for each person, mostly minorities, to know they aren’t alone and to give them hope - empowering them to exist.
Erikat told Palestine Monitor it is not with rocks and weapons they want to fight the occupation. Through art and culture, they are trying to exist as a state and as an independent country.
In the context of LGBTQ rights, the term Pinkwashing is used to describe a variety of marketing and political strategies aimed at promoting products, people and entities, through an appeal to gay-friendliness, in order to be perceived as progressive, modern and tolerant.
Erikat believes Israel is guilty of Pinkwashing. He said the Israeli government sells the country as tolerant, so the world can ignore all their human rights violations.
Israel also promotes itself as a country which accepts the Palestinian LGBTQ who ran “away from the oppressed and intolerant Palestine” - in the words of Erikat - making the whole dynamic work in interests of Israel.
“If we fight for ourselves, and allow the space to talk about LGBTQ and other minorities, we will be taking this leverage out from occupation,” Erikat said.
“Most important is that it should be allowed for sexual and gender diversity to exist and be in Palestine, not just for their own privileges but because Palestine and Palestinians are more than just an occupied territory.” Erikat told the Palestine Monitor.
As Palestine follows Jordanian law, homosexuality isn’t criminalised. Even so, the Palestinian Authority can charge people under the umbrella of public indecency law.
This means an arrest on the basis of homosexuality cannot be undertaken unless it’s practiced public.
“Yet, in our society, it’s the social norms and taboo traditions that rule over,” Erikat said.
“As a Queer and supporter of LGBTQ+, I believe we cannot change a whole tradition yet we can try to educate the existing and upcoming generations. This is already happening and I have a lot of hopes for it. Slowly, our spaces will be granted and we will give to ourselves the legitimate lives that we want,” Erikat concluded.

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