After authorities in Palestine cracked down on a queer advocacy group in the West Bank, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tweeted her support for the organization and offered suggestions on how people could support LGBTQ Palestinians.
“LGBTQ rights are human rights,” she wrote in a tweet Monday night, “and we should condemn any effort to infringe upon them.”
But Omar was adamant her support didn’t change her view on the Israeli occupation.
“Pretending that this act somehow balances or mitigates Israel violating the dignity and rights of Palestinians—or undermines cases for defending Palestinian rights—is deplorable.”
Earlier this month, the LGBT group al-Qaws announced it was holding a two-day “queer camp” at the end of August in Nablus, a city in the West Bank about 30 miles from Jerusalem.
The event would provide a venue “for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth from Palestine to meet, learn about the basic concepts of gender pluralism and explore the different sides of our human sexuality,” according to a Facebook post by al-Qaws, which reportedly held an event earlier this month.
As a result the Palestinian Authority banned LGBTQ organizations from operating in the West Bank. According to the Time of Israel, police are looking to arrest members of al-Qaws and have asked residents to turn them in.
Louay Arzeikat, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority police, said LGBTQ events “go against and infringe upon the higher principles and values of Palestinian society.” Arzeikat added that groups like al-Qaws hope “to sow discord and undermine Palestinian society’s peaceful state of affairs.”
Omar retweeted five tips to support queer Palestinians, including recognizing the link between colonialism, patriarchy and homophobia. Another tip called on readers to “steer clear” of pink washing or highlighting advances in LGBTQ rights to distract from other issues—notably the plight of Palestinians who live Gaza and West Bank.
It’s not the first time Rep. Omar has shown support for the LGBTQ community. In May, Omar Omar introduced legislation “to hold Brunei accountable” after Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah instituted the death penalty for homosexual acts.
In June she attended Twin Cities Pride in Minneapolis, posting photos of herself dancing with drag queens.
“#HappyPride! I had a fantastic time dancing, hugging, and celebrating #TCPride with everyone this weekend! ❤️#Pride” Omar tweeted at the time.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) also shared Monday’s Twitter thread advising how to support Palestinian queers
Homosexuality is illegal in the Gaza Strip but not in the West Bank. Many LGBTQ Palestinians flee the territories for Israel in hopes of finding a safe haven. But, as Israel’s asylum laws don’t apply, they can be subject to deportation or house arrest—or be pressured into providing information to the Israel government in exchange for their safety.
Members of al-Qaws called Arzeikat’s statement “very unfortunate,” according to NBC News. The group also claimed its social media had been subjected to “an unprecedented assault… including threats of violence.”
by Daniel Avery
Source – Newsweek