Persecution of Homosexuals (Palestinian Authority area)

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Note that this page may contain news regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite, and transsexual people (LGBTT)

Palestinian Authority takes part in widespread and sadistic intimidation, torture, imprisonment and deaths of gays

What seems less well known, however, is the appalling treatment of gays under Yassir Arafat's Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza. At least it was less known until Yossi Klein Halevi wrote about it in the August 19th New Republic. Palestine makes rural Texas look like San Francisco.

According to Halevi, one young man discovered to be gay was forced by Palestinian Authority police "to stand in sewage water up to his neck, his head covered by a sack filled with feces, and then he was thrown into a dark cell infested with insects." During one interrogation Palestinian police stripped him and forced him to sit on a Coke bottle.

When he was released he fled to Israel. If he were forced to return to Gaza, he said, "The police would kill me."

An American who foolishly moved into the West Bank to live with his Palestinian lover said they told everyone they were just friends, but one day they "found a letter under our door from the Islamic court. It listed the five forms of death prescribed by Islam for homosexuality, including stoning and burning. We fled to Israel that same day," he said.

The head of a Tel Aviv gay organization told Halevi, "The persecution of gays in the Palestinian Authority doesn't just come from the families or the Islamic groups, but from the P.A. itself."

Palestinian police have increasingly enforced Islamic religious law, he said: "It's now impossible to be an open gay in the P.A." He recalled that one gay man in the Palestinian police went to Israel for a short time. When he returned to the West Bank, Palestinian Authority police confined him to a pit without food or water until he died.

A 17-year-old gay youth recalled that he spent months in a Palestinian Authority prison "where interrogators cut him with glass and poured toilet cleaner into his wounds."

The U.S. State Department, which more and more seems to be living on some other planet, blandly noted in a 2001 human rights report, "In the Palestinian territories homosexuals generally are socially marginalized and occasionally receive physical threats." That's one way to put it.

In the last few years, Halevi reports, hundreds of gay Palestinians, mostly from the West Bank, have fled to Israel, usually to Tel Aviv, Israel's most cosmopolitan city. Many are desperately poor, he says, "but at least they're beyond the reach of their families and the P.A."
"Israel, Palestine, and Gays"
Paul Varnell, Chicago Free Press, August 28, 2002,

Gay Palestinian men are risking their lives to cross into Israel, claiming they feel safer among Israelis than their own people. There are now 300 gay Palestinian men secretly living and working in Israel

A number of gay Palestinian men are risking their lives to cross the border into Israel, claiming they feel safer among Israelis than their own people.

According to some estimates, there are now 300 gay Palestinian men secretly living and working in Israel.

Their willingness to live there - despite the risk of being detained and deported as a security threat - is due to Palestinian attitudes towards gay men, they claim.

One 22-year-old gay man who fled from Gaza into Israel four years ago told BBC World Service's Outlook programme he was almost killed when his family found out about his sexuality.
. . .
many Palestinian gays say they would still rather live under house arrest in Israel, where homosexuality is not considered a crime, than at home.

The 22-year-old who fled his home in Gaza alleged that those who do stay in the occupied territories are often coerced into working for the Palestinian police.

He said that he himself had been stopped by police in Gaza, who had threatened to expose him as a homosexual. He alleged he was told by the police to sleep with another man in order to acquire damaging information about him.

The man alleged that after he refused, the Palestinian police had tortured him.

"They hit me. They put me in a pool of water with just my head sticking out," he claimed.
Palestinian gays flee to Israel
BBC News, October 22, 2003

Gay Christian Palestinian who fled the PA for Israel, criticizes the oppressive Palestinian society and says, in contrast, Israel allows gays the “freedom to express (their) sex and take pride in it”

Disguised with a wig, sunglasses and a fake mustache, he offered only his first name, Ali. He said he was unwilling to reveal his last name or hometown for fear of being discovered by the Palestinian Authority.

Ali had harsh words for the environment he said homosexuals were forced into by the Palestinian Authority. “There is no freedom to speak about my homosexuality,” he said. “That’s what I’m experiencing in my Palestinian society as in the rest of the Arab world.”

According to Ali, a word for homosexuality does not even exist in the area’s native language. He said he only discovered his sexual orientation while studying in Jerusalem.

He claimed the opportunity never presented itself under Palestinian control, where he could have potentially been “subject to random arrests, torture and random killings” if he revealed his homosexuality.

Instead, Ali said he chose to live freely as a gay man in Israel rather than hide his sexual orientation. He also revealed that most of his family does not know the truth to this day.

Ali was critical of the human rights situation in his native country saying, “My mouth was shut.” As a Christian Palestinian, Ali said that he felt he had already been subject to discrimination as a minority. He claimed that in Israel, by contrast, individuals have the “freedom to express [their] sex and take pride in it.”

Ali, however, avoided commenting on the political conflict existing in the Middle East. He said he felt homosexuals’ rights are “beyond the conflict.” “We are also part of this international human rights group,” he said. “We are also normal people. We are also human beings.”

Students also watched a video on the thriving homosexual community in Israel, “Out of the Closet and Into the Streets of Tel-Aviv.” “What I see in the gay life in Israel and Israeli society is that you are free,” Ali said following the video.

Explaining the supportive social network for gays in Israel by groups such as the Agudah and Jerusalem Open House, Ali reiterated the “open-minded” opportunities and choices available for Jews and Arabs alike within a democratic Israel.

Ali praised the legal situation for homosexuals in Israel, pointing out that homosexuals have the freedom to serve openly in the army and that Israeli courts have been issuing legislation protecting equal benefits for gay couples similar to those of married couples. None of these rights exist under the Palestinian government, he said.

Like the United States, Israel is working towards passing legislation for gay marriages. Speaking of this progress, Ali expressed his hopes of hearing such news from a Palestinian leader one day.
Gay Man Criticizes Palestinian Society
Alex Tehranian, The Hoya, October 22, 2004

West Bank gays are more at home in Israel and fear the new wall will trap them where homosexuality is strictly taboo, sometimes violently so

A 21-year-old university student with serious professional ambitions, Nawal wouldn't dream of performing in his hometown, where homosexuality, as in the rest of the Palestinian territories, is strictly taboo, sometimes violently so. Last year, a group of gay Palestinians visiting East Jerusalem from the United States were threatened and one of them badly beaten after they announced plans to join an Israeli gay pride rally. The Web site of ASWAT, an organization of Palestinian gay women, says Palestinian society "has no mercy for sexual diversity and/or any expression of 'otherness' away from the societal norms and the assigned roles that were formed for women. ... The Palestinian woman has no right to choose an identity other than the one enforced on her by the male figures in her family and surroundings."

So for Nawal and his friends, the only place where they can pursue a full social life is across the border in Israel.
. . .
Saturday night is Arab night at Shushan, a gay bar in central Jerusalem, featuring a drag show that is part karaoke, part cross-cultural celebration.
. . .
Freddy A., a 27-year-old bisexual Arab from East Jerusalem, a regular at Shushan, is a veteran of the Palestinian gay scene. "It's very tough being gay or bisexual because Arab behavior is still dominated by Islamic tradition, where it is forbidden," says Freddy, a hotel worker and the youngest male in a traditional Muslim family of eight children.
. . .

"I have one friend in his early 20s who was beaten by his family when they discovered he was gay, and forced to marry," he says. "Now he's not in a good situation. He has turned to drugs and drink."
West Bank gays more at home in Israel West Bank gays find social life in Israel
Matthew Kalman, San Francisco Chronicle, February 5, 2007

Openly gay man arrested and beaten by police due to his sexual orientation. His family disown him and warn him against returning to Nablus. Now petitioning for asylum with his partner in Israel

A homosexual Palestinian man petitioned the High Court of Justice Thursday against Interior Minister Eli Yishai and the public committee reviewing humanitarian cases at the Interior Ministry following their decision to reject his appeal for legal residency status in Israel.

According to the petitioner, his request was denied despite indication of special humanitarian circumstances and therefore violates the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law. In his petition, the man also requested that the court issue an edict preventing authorities from deporting him until the court rules on his matter.

The petitioner, a Muslim Palestinian from Nablus who grew up in Israel until the age of six, said he is an openly gay man, whose sexual orientation is well known in the West Bank and was even reported in the Palestinian media.

He further noted that he has been living in Tel Aviv with his Israeli partner for many years, and that the two had signed a domestic partnership agreement over a decade ago.

According to the petitioner, if he is deported back to the Palestinian Authority, his life would be in danger.

He claimed that he has been arrested and beaten by the Palestinian police due to his sexual orientation in the past, and that his family has disowned him and warned him against returning to Nablus.

After a long wait, the petitioner was informed last October that the chairman of the committee, Minister Yishai, has decided to deny his request – a decision the petitioner is claiming discriminates against same sex couples.
Gay Palestinian man petitions for asylum
Aviad Glickman, YNet News, May 24, 2012