July 06, 2006


The Jerusalem Post reported on July 5 that "religious officials from the Muslim, JewishRainbow_flag_star_of_david  and Christian communities united Tuesday to oppose a gay pride parade in Jerusalem.  More than 50 prominent religious figures visited the Knesset's Interior Committee to urge MKs to stop the World Pride event, scheduled to take place in Jerusalem next month. Several right-wing religious MKs brought the coalition to the Knesset, asserting that 'never before has the Holy Land seen such a union of religious leaders.' Representations of gay-rights groups, including the Jerusalem Open House and the Coalition for Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian, and Transgender Rights called the coalition 'dangerous' and 'ugly.'" To read the entire Jerusalem Post story, click here.

The Israeli news website Y-Net reported that at the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee meeting on Tuesday, called by Orthodox Jews and Muslim members of the Israeli parliament "dozens of invitees" were present, stacking the hearing with opponents of the march, "including senior staff at the Jerusalem municipality, an ambassador from the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada, , the Coptic and Greek Patriarchates, heads of various Jerusalem churches, students, senior staff of the Internal Security Ministry and the Vatican’s ambassador to Israel."

Ibrahim_sarsur_mk Y-Net noted that, "A ripple of laughter went through the meeting when MK Ibrahim Sarsur (United Arab List-Ta’al) said, 'I have never had to participate in such a discussion, because in Muslim society we don’t have this problem.'" (Sarsur is at left in the photo next to Orthodox Jewish Knesset member at Tuesday's hearing) I would add that of course they don't "have this problem," as any public expression of homosexuality, let alone of gay pride, is severely repressed in those societies -- both by the religiously inculcated homophobia, machismo, and patriarchal misogyny that results in "honor killings" of lesbian and gay people by their own families in those cultures; and by official policy, as the rare attempts to organize around gay self-acceptance in Muslim countries is usually severely dealt with by authorities, as witness the recent attacks on gay-content websites from Lebanon to Morocco.

Lebanon is, in fact, one of the very few Muslim countries where gays have dared to organize in the light of day -- but with serious consequences. The useful website of the Lebanese gay rights group Helem reports, for example, on the intense campaign against it by the Arab media -- particularly the Dubai-based, Saudi-owned TV network Al Arabiya --after Helem's decision to participate in the May 27 International Day Against Homophobia, and on the calls for the organization's banning by conservative religious members of Lebanon's parliament. The International Lesbian and Gay Association began reporting in 2000 on a government intimidation campaign targeting Lebanese gay websites.

Sarsour, the Arab Knesset member, had earlier warned gays warned gays that "if they dare to approach the Temple Mount during the World Pride 2006 parade in Jerusalem they will do so over our dead bodies."

Holding the World Pride event in Jerusalem has engendered considerable debate in the gay community. A website, Boycott World Pride 2006, has been set up by gays opposing holding the event in the Israeli city at a time when Israel is engaged in a severe campaign of repression in the Palestinian Occupied Territories -- as witness the escalated Israeli military campaign in the wake of the election victory of Hamas in the Palestinian Authority and the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants. (The U.K. newspaper The Independent reported today that "At least 20 Palestinians were believed dead, dozens more were wounded " yesterday as Israel "moved to reoccupy a swath of the northern Gaza Strip for the first time since its forces and settlers pulled out 11 months ago.")

Aswat_logo_2 One of the other rare gay organizations in a Muslim culture, the group Aswat (logo left), which calls itself an association of "Palestinian gay women" -- a rather obvious rebuke to those who claim that in Arab cultures there is no "gay identity" -- has said that it is boycotting world pride because "Palestinians in Eastern occupied Jerusalem will continue to suffer under intensified checkpoints, increasing racism, house demolishing, confiscating IDs and expanding of Israeli settlements." Moreover, said Aswat, "Even though, the state of Israel holds a tolerant stance towards gays and lesbians, it uses this opportunity to show the world that in Israel a gay man can also be a soldier. However, being a soldier in an occupying oppressive army does not do justice to our quest for peace and tolerance. This is an insult to our struggle for freedom and tolerance. In Israel, violence and hatred are articulated through homophobia and xenophobia, and this very same violence is evident in racism, occupation and war crimes." To read the entire Aswat statement on World Pride 2006, click here.

Posted by Direland at 08:29 PM | Permalink


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Posted by: Cash advance | Nov 9, 2006 11:07:23 AM

I agree completely with Peter Tatchell (one of the most principled people on the planet) and OutRage! on why NOT to boycott World Pride in Jerusalem:

...On careful reflection, the queer human rights group OutRage! believes a boycott would be a big mistake. While supporting justice for the Palestinian people, we oppose calls for a boycott of World Pride, which is being held in Jerusalem from 6-12 August 2006.

Successfully staging World Pride in Jerusalem will be a huge defeat for the Christian, Judaist and Muslim fundamentalists who want it banned and who believe lesbian and gay people should be jailed, flogged or executed. Through news coverage, the event will have the positive effect of increasing queer visibility and promoting public debate about queer issues in homophobic Middle Eastern countries and beyond. It will give comfort and hope to isolated, downcast queers throughout the Arab world.

A cancellation or boycott of World Pride would be a major victory for the religious and political bigots who are wrecking the lives of queers in the Middle East and across the globe. They will rejoice and be uplifted if World Pride fails to go ahead as planned. It will encourage and embolden their homophobia.

World Pride is in solidarity with the queer liberation struggles in Israel, Palestine and worldwide. A boycott would be a tragic betrayal of this global quest for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) freedom.

While a boycott would not advance the Palestinian cause one iota, it would give comfort to the oppressors of lesbians and gays and undermine a genuine attempt at global solidarity against homophobia.

If World Pride was organized by the Israeli state, I would support a boycott. But the organizers are Jerusalem Open House (JOH), the LGBT social, welfare and human rights organization which serves both Israeli and Palestinian LGBTs.

The holding of World Pride in Jerusalem is supported by the Palestinian members of JOH, and by many LGBT Palestinians living in Palestine. Most of the opposition to World Pride is coming from groups based in western countries.

OutRage! supports a boycott of oppressive Israeli institutions, but not of events like World Pride that are an expression of the international struggle for LGBT liberation. Although well intended, boycotting a celebration of queer life, culture and human rights is a reactionary stance that plays into the hands of homophobes.

OutRage! would prefer World Pride to be held in the Palestinian city of Ramallah - not Jerusalem - but the homophobic Palestinian Authority will not allow it. Indeed, no Arab or Muslim city will permit World Pride. Why aren't the critics who oppose holding World Pride in Jerusalem protesting about that?

Staging World Pride in Jerusalem is not an endorsement of Israel's annexation and occupation of Palestinian territory. It is an affirmation of LGBT identity and culture in defiance of the denunciations and threats of religious and political homophobes.

Far from colluding with the Israeli state, World Pride's theme - Love Without Borders - is an implicit attack on Israel's oppressive security wall and on its denial of free movement to the Palestinian people.

I speak as someone who has supported the Palestinian freedom struggle for 35 years. Together with the actress Vanessa Redgrave and others, in the early 1970s I campaigned for a unified, democratic, federal, secular state of Palestine, where Jews and Arabs could live together in peace, equality and justice. I still believe in that dream.

Over 30 years ago, I was one of the first people to propose a boycott and sanctions against Israel, including an economic, arms, trade and tourism embargo to pressure Israel to withdraw from the occupied Palestinian territories and to respect Palestinian human rights. I stand by the call to isolate the oppressive Israeli state.

Since World Pride is not organized by the government of Israel and since its purpose is not the glorification of Israel and its occupation of Palestine, I fail to understand how a boycott can be ethically justified or how it will help the Palestinians.

OutRage! is in favor of boycotts that challenge injustice, but we do not support indiscriminate boycotts that penalize people and movements campaigning for democracy, social justice and human rights, such as World Pride.

Our organization is modeled on Gandhi's methods of non-violent direct action and civil disobedience, which used boycotts to advance the cause of Indian independence.

Many of our members boycotted South Africa during the apartheid era and Chile in the period of Pinochet's dictatorship. But we did not boycott people, campaigns and events in South Africa and Chile that sought to advance the cause of freedom in those countries.

In the 1990s, OutRage! organized boycott campaigns against countries like Romania in support of their LGBT and human rights struggles. So we have no aversion to boycotts per se.

Boycotts can be an effective and ethical tactic when appropriately targeted. But we cannot see how a boycott of World Pride in Jerusalem will achieve anything to advance either the LGBT or Palestinian cause.

Boycotting World Pride will not unnerve the Israeli state or cause it any significant financial loss. It will not win LGBT people support and respect among homophobic orthodox Jews or among Palestinians in the often violently homophobic streets of Gaza and the West Bank.

A successful boycott would, however, bring joy to homophobes of all faiths and none. It would achieve what they cannot: the failure of World Pride.

Despite their different motives, the boycotters and the homophobes have the same objective: stop World Pride in Jerusalem.

Although we cannot accept the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands, OutRage! believes there are strong reasons for supporting World Pride in Jerusalem...

More at http://www.petertatchell.net/international/worldprideboycott.htm and http://www.petertatchell.net/

Posted by: Claude Wynne | Jul 7, 2006 10:40:00 AM

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