TEL AVIV – The Palestinian leadership has banned members of the local LGBTQ community from holding any activities or events in the West Bank because they are “damaging” to the fabric of Palestinian society.
Palestinian Authority security forces have been instructed to arrest any people participating in such events and PA police released a statement warning that such arrests would lead to trial.
The ban came after it was announced that a grassroots group, Al-Qaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, was planning to hold an event for its members in Nablus at the end of the month.
Earlier this month, Al-Qaws held an event in Nablus focusing on sexual and gender diversity in Palestinian society, the Jerusalem Post reported. The PA police were only made aware of the event after it had taken place.
Defending the ban, spokesperson for the PA police Luay Zreikat said that such activities are “harmful to the higher values and ideals of Palestinian society.”
Zreikat added that Al-Qaws activities contravened “Palestinian traditions and customs, especially in the city of Nablus,” which is a predominantly conservative Muslim city.
He further charged such “dubious parties” of working to “create discord and harm civic peace in Palestinian society,” and called on Palestinians to report any person connected with the group to the police.
Al-Qaws responded that, as a result of the PA police’s “incitement,” members of the group have received threats of violence.
“The Palestinian police announcement about our activities is very unfortunate,” the group said. “It’s very strange that they are accusing us of being a suspicious entity working to take apart Palestinian society. Al-Qaws is a Palestinian organization that has been operating since 2001, and is carrying out educational and professional programs on sexual and gender diversity. We totally reject the attempt to create an atmosphere of prosecution and intimidation, as well as threats of arrest.”
An unnamed member of Al-Qaws told the Jerusalem Post that since the police announcement, he and his friends had received hundreds of threats and messages of hate from Palestinians.
“The attack on us is unprecedented,” he said. “They are calling us traitors and corrupt people and many are calling for our execution. We are afraid for our lives.”
Al-Qaws, which has offices in Jerusalem and Haifa and works with Arab-Israelis as well as Palestinians, was established with the goal of “fighting for vibrant Palestinian cultural and social change, building LGBTQ communities and promoting new ideas about the role of gender and sexual diversity in political activism, civil society institutions, media, and everyday life,” the report said.