JUNE 20, 2011
by Haneen Maikey, director of alQaws
Organized by Mikki Stelder, in cooperation with Queeristan and NICA
The Palestinian community is one of the few in the Middle East that witnessed an explicit formation of a queer discourse in the public sphere. Entrenched in the struggle against the Israeli occupation of Palestine, the struggle of Palestinian queers is not only a struggle against social injustice in Palestine, but also against Israel’s colonization, occupation and apartheid. Violations of human rights and international law, suppression of basic rights and civil liberties, and discrimination are deeply rooted in Israel’s policies towards Palestinians, straight and gay alike.
The Palestinian queer community has evolved over the last ten years; civil society organizations working on queer rights have emerged. One of the grassroots organizations working on sexual and gender diversity in the Palestinian community, alQaws, works to integrate the queer community into various levels of Palestinian society. Realizing that the oppression faced by Palestinian queers is not only a result of their gender and sexual identity, but also a result of being Palestinians, alQaws strives to carve out a space for the queer community in the shadow of oppression and occupation.
In 2010, a community of Palestinian queer activists who live in the occupied Palestinian territories and inside Israel came together to promote and stand for the Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel, which was launched in July 2005. Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (PQBDS) argue that the struggle for sexual and gender diversity is interconnected with the Palestinian struggle for freedom and self-determination.
The lecture on Pinkwashing: Homonationalism and Gay Tourism in Palestine/Israel presents the queer struggle in Palestine in its historical context. It explains the formation of a Palestinian queer movement, which evolved throughout different and major historical events in the political sphere of the region. The lecture proposes an understanding of the current discourse of homonationalism in Israel from the perspective of marginalized Palestinian queers. The strategic pinkwashing of Israel’s image that is used in the campaigns of gay tourism in Tel Aviv is exposed as a cover up to the exclusionary politics of the Israeli state. The lecture concludes with a discussion on the politics of representation of the Palestinian queer community from an Israeli perspective versus a Palestinian one.
Haneen Maikey is the director of alQaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning and queer (LGBTQ) Palestinian activists, who work collaboratively to break down gendered and heteronormative barriers). Maikey is also co-founder of the Palestinian Queers for BDS.