“The Palestinian administration tolerates the so-called ‘honour’ killing of women who refuse to submit to the strict rules of orthodox Islam,” he added.
OutRage! activists took their message of “Freedom for all Palestinians – straight and gay, men and women” to the “Free Palestine” rally in Trafalgar Square, London, today, Saturday 21 May.
“OutRage! supports the Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice. The Israeli occupation must end. But so must the violent sexism and homophobia of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and of the Palestinian political movements like Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO),” said Mr Tatchell.
Under the slogan of “Freedom For All Palestinians” the OutRage! placards urged:
”No more killing of lesbians & gays by PLO and PA”
”Hamas & PLO torture and murder gays. Shame!”
”Stop "honour" killing of gays & women in Palestine”
“Israel: Stop persecuting Palestine! Palestine: Stop persecuting queers!”
“Last year, we were shoved, abused, shouted down and threatened by other protesters, and by stewards and rally organisers from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC). They also blocked out our placards with their banners,” recalls OutRage! campaign coordinator, Brett Lock.
“This year we received a much more sympathetic reception. Most people took our leaflets (copy below). We seem to be winning over the pro-Palestinian movement, despite the efforts of the rally organisers – the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) – to encourage their supporters to reject our concerns.
“As we mingled in the crowd distributing leaflets, PSC stewards urged people not to take our hand-outs and told them, falsely, that we were lying and trying to split the Palestine solidarity movement. These dirty, underhand tactics dishonour the Palestinian cause.
“PSC stewards refused to take our leaflets or to discuss the issues we were raising. A small number of protestors half-heartedly tried to block our placards with their placards. Apart from a couple of jeers of ‘faggots’, most other protestors eagerly took our leaflets and several expressed overt support for the rights of Palestinian women and gay people. In contrast to last year, the sympathies of those attending the rally seem to have shifted in our favour.
“Some protesters said raising gay and women’s rights at a Free Palestine protest was ‘inappropriate’. For these people there is never an appropriate time to press for the rights of women and gays. Our rights are never a priority. We are always expendable for the sake of the bigger, wider cause.
“OutRage! is disappointed by Amnesty International’s inaction on this issue.
Amnesty has declined our requests to report on the torture and murder of gay Palestinians, stating that it lacks the resources. The OutRage! website, however, documents evidence that Amnesty could easily corroborate and publish. We are very disappointed by Amnesty’s reluctance to defend the human rights of lesbian and gay Palestinians.
“Examples of violent homophobic persecution by the Palestinian factions and the Palestinian Authority can be found on the OutRage! website www.outrage.org.uk (go to Briefings and then to Palestinian Gays).
”Since last year, when we protested at the Free Palestine rally, we tried to have a dialogue with the PSC but they refuse to meet us. They have also ignored our dossier on the abuse of gay Palestinians and our requests for them to raise the torture and murder of queers with the Palestinian authorities. In effect, the PSC colludes with the torturers and killers of queers. That is why we had to protest.
”Our presence made many supporters of the Palestinian struggle aware of the violent homophobic persecution inflicted on Palestinian lesbians and gays. We hope they will now support the just struggle of gay Palestinians and pressure the Palestinian movements and government to halt their homophobic victimization,” concluded Mr Lock.
OutRage! is urging everyone who wants justice and freedom for the women and gay people of Palestine to protest to the Palestinian representative in the UK, Afif Safieh. Email him: Palestinianuk@aol.com