Lesbians, gays, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people across the world have rejected Israel’s brutal occupation of Gaza and are coming out in support of the boycott, divest and sanctions (BDS) campaign.
In the wake of Israel’s bloody attack on the Freedom Flotilla and murder of peace activists on May 31, the myth that Israel is a liberal democratic state has been dispelled. But Israel continues to try to market itself as the only “gay haven” in the Middle East.
This “pinkwashing” is a tactic to try to divert attention from, and justify, Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine. It is nothing but cynical spin-doctoring.
Increasingly, LGBTI people across the world are not accepting the blatant lies about Israel being “gay-friendly”. Many are rejecting Israel’s violent suppression of the Palestinian people.
In response to the attack on the Freedom Flotilla, the organisers of Madrid Pride, a gay pride parade in Spain, have banned an Israeli delegation from having a float at the parade. Organisers said they took this action because Tel Aviv mayor Ron Huldai had not condemned the attack.
Antonio Poveda, president of Spain’s Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transexuals and Bisexuals, told the June 9 British Guardian: “After what has happened, and as human rights campaigners, it seemed barbaric to us to have them taking part.”
The Guardian reported, that in response to the decision, Eytan Schwartz, a spokesperson for Tel Aviv, told Spain's El Mundo newspaper: “Don't they know that Islamist fundamentalists don't just want to finish off Israel, but that they also believe homosexuals should 'cure themselves' or die?
“It is shameful that they should join with pro-Palestinian and fundamentalist groups which are not exactly tolerant with homosexuality”, he said. "[Gaza] is controlled by the fundamentalists of Hamas, who do not respect any human rights and believe that homosexuals should be killed."
Israel is not a shining light of queer acceptance. The Israeli government does nothing to combat homophobia in Palestine. It simply pretends to support Palestinian queers to justify racism and the continued occupation and collective punishment of the Palestinian people. Israel’s bombs do not discriminate, they kill queer and straight Palestinians alike.
But as queer groups come out in support of Palestinians, the Zionist lobby is fighting back.
In Canada, Pride Toronto banned use of the phrase “Israeli apartheid” after the City of Toronto threatened to cut its funding for the 2011 Queer Pride Parade. This has effectively excluded the Canadian-based group Queers United Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) from taking part in the parade.
QuAIA has long campaigned for Palestinian solidarity and is active in the international BDS campaign that aims to isolate apartheid Israel and break its siege of Gaza.
Another Canadian group, Queers Undermining Israeli Terrorism, has successfully targeted queer filmmakers to take part in the cultural boycott of Israel and pull films from the Israeli queer film festival TLVFest.
The group Palestinian Queers for BDS said on April 21: “The struggle for sexual and gender diversity is interconnected with the Palestinian struggle for freedom … the BDS campaign is an effective way of resistance that represents the majority of Palestinian people.”
Queer rights groups in Australia should join the global movement to isolate apartheid Israel and sign onto the BDS campaign. To support Palestine’s queer rights activists means supporting Palestine’s struggle for liberation.
Resistance supports the BDS campaign and is active in Palestinian solidarity and queer rights activism.