UK gays attacked at Palestine rights protest

May 19, 2004

OutRage! and QYA activists participate in the rally for a free Palestine
LONDON — Lesbians and gay men from OutRage! and the Queer Youth Alliance joined Saturday's demonstration in London to support the human rights of the people of Palestine. But they also urged the Palestinian Authority to halt the arrest, torture and murder of homosexuals.

They marched with placards reading: "Israel: stop persecuting Palestine! Palestine: stop persecuting queers!"

As soon as they arrived in Trafalgar Square to join the demonstration, the gay protesters were surrounded by an angry, screaming mob of Islamic fundamentalists, Anglican clergymen, members of the Socialist Workers Party, the Stop the War Coalition, and officials from the protest organisers, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). They variously attacked the gay activists as �racists�, �Zionists�, �CIA and MI5 agents�, �supporters of the Sharon government� and �dividing the Free Palestine movement�.

PSC organisers asked the gay activists to �stand at the back of the demonstration�, and when they refused blocked their placards with their own banners and shouted down the gay campaigners as they tried to speak to journalists and other protesters.

Most people at the Palestine protest expressed no hostility towards OutRage! and the Queer Youth Alliance. Some expressed positive support.

�We call on the PLO and Palestinian Authority to condemn homophobia, uphold queer human rights, and to order an immediate end to the abuse of lesbian and gay Palestinians", said OutRage! protester, Brett Lock. "Having experienced the pain of homophobia, we deplore the suffering inflicted on Palestinians by the Israeli government�.

"Both Islamophobia and homophobia are intolerable. Upholding the principle of universal human rights, we support the human rights of the people of Palestine. We call on the Palestinians to recognise the human rights of gay Palestinians".

Another protester, Peter Tatchell, said: "Gay Palestinians live in fear of arrest, detention without trial, torture and execution at the hands of Palestinian police and security services. They also risk abduction and so-called honour killing by vengeful family members and vigilante mobs, as well as punishment beatings and murder by Palestinian political groups such as Hamas and Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement".

"These revelations come from the independent human rights watchdog, B�Tselem, and from the Israeli gay rights groups Aguda and Open House, which help gay Palestinian refugees".

The abuse of Palestinian gays has been confirmed by two senior Palestine Liberation Organisation officials in conversations with queer rights activist, Peter Tatchell. "Both officials expressed personal regret concerning these abuses but said their liberal views were not shared by the majority of PLO officials and supporters", said Mr Tatchell.

"For over 30 years I have supported the Palestinian struggle for national liberation, but it would be wrong to remain silent while the PLO, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are abducting, brutalising and murdering lesbian and gay Palestinians. Freedom for Palestine must be freedom for all Palestinians – straight and gay.

�Unless we challenge the abuse of queer human rights now, this violent homophobia will become entrenched in a new Palestinian state and Palestinian leaders will be emboldened to abuse the rights of other Palestinian citizens", said Tatchell. – OutRage! News Service

Related stories
Oxford Union approves equal rights for gay partners [19/05/2004]



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