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World Pride: Why Israel is no answer for LGBT Palestinians

Haneen Maikey is director of Al-Qaws, an organisation for sexual and gender diversity in Palestinian society. She spoke to Noel Halifax about the struggle for LGBT rights in Palestine

Issue No. 2310

Haneen Maikey

Haneen Maikey

“We see our role as challenging hierarchies over sexualities and gender and creating space inside Palestinian society, where sexuality is currently a taboo subject.

“We have been around since 2001. We work with other service providers in schools and with youth. We currently have a project to work with artists and to make music that talks about sexuality and diversity.

“But we have many types of groups that work with other social movements to talk about sexuality.

“We are very concerned about ‘pink-washing’ of Israel, which is used to portray a image of Israel as a progressive country and not a country that has been oppressing another people for 65 years.

“We reject the colonial logic that projects Israel as progressive as opposed to the Palestinian people portrayed as being inhuman and barbaric. We reject the idea that LBGTQ Palestinians must turn to Israel to be free and can only be seen as victims.


“So we work internationally to expose Israel as a reactionary force and to counter this colonial way of thinking about sexuality. Inside Palestinian society we work to counter the idea that the only way to be LBGTQ is to adopt Israeli style.

“Some gay Palestinians have internalised this view of themselves as victims. So we provide support and safe forums where LBGTQ Palestinians can find ways to be gay inside Palestinian society.

“The international campaign to boycott Israel helps to counter the image of Israel as a role model of Western-style gay life.

“It’s a great way to bring the issue of the nature of Israel and the discrimination all Palestinians face to a world stage. It also helps to counter how we have been marginalised internationally.

“We do not separate our identities as Palestinians fighting for our freedom and liberation from being LBGTQ people. We are part of the wider struggle for liberation.

“We see it as part of our struggle to build a society where gay Palestinians do not feel they have to flee.”

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Tue 3 Jul 2012, 17:54 BST
Issue No. 2310
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