Tuesday, August 08, 2006

WorldPride supports gay Palestinians

Despite a call from some LGBT Arabs to boycott WorldPride in Israel, WorldPride organisers – Jerusalem Open House - will express solidarity with gay Palestinians today at a demonstration at the city’s separation wall.

As the WorldPride Jerusalem 2006 organisers wrote, "Holding WorldPride in Jerusalem, the city at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is a significant opportunity for our diverse community to raise a different voice, a voice for progressive moral values, inclusion and pluralism."

However, Remy of Helem, an LGBT Lebanese group, said:

“WorldPride in Jerusalem -- a parade for love and acceptance in an occupied land, a land which knows no acceptance nor love? Helem supports the international boycott of Jerusalem WorldPride. Lebanese (and many other Arabs) have no right to enter Jerusalem.”

Israel-based Palestinian lesbian activist Rauda Morcos said, “We don't agree to participate in a WorldPride that does not take a political stand against the occupation”.

The demonstration will emphasise problems of the political situation and offer support to LGBT Palestinians who do not have the same resources as Israelis, including those of the JOH.

Participants will gather in Gan Ha-pa'amon from 830 in the morning and will march to a pre selected spot near the separation wall to express their support.

Other WorldPride highlights this week include an LGBT Clergy Multifaith Convocation: "Reclaiming Our Faith and Our Heritage," a protest highlighting anti-gay incitement and hate campaigns targeting lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people, and conferences on gay youth, human rights and health.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Al Fatiha's Open Letter Regarding World Pride

Open Letter to the LGBTIQ Community and WorldPride Participants

As LGBTIQ Muslims and allies, the Al-Fatiha Foundation is torn, but united in our boycott of WorldPride in Jerusalem. As a religious organization, Al-Fatiha embraces the great symbolism that WorldPride in Jerusalem represents: the bringing together of LGBTIQ people in a city regarded as holy by Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Yet, this WorldPride will not be a bringing together of people; Palestinians and the vast majority of Muslims will continue to be denied access to the city of Jerusalem. Al-Fatiha cannot, in good faith, support participation in WorldPride held in a segregated Jerusalem, under an Israeli apartheid system.

There is no pride in a system of apartheid institutionalized by the Israeli government and enforced by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) against Palestinian civilians. Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza are routinely denied freedom of movement and unrestricted access to Jerusalem. Palestinians must carry identity cards to go anywhere, and if granted, special permits to enter or exit Jerusalem. Every day, Palestinians must endure numerous checkpoints which restrict and often prohibit their travel for work, for education, and for healthcare. The escalating violence targeting civilians in Palestine/Israel precludes freedom of movement for everyone, regardless of sexuality, religion or ethnicity.

There is no pride in collective punishment of millions of people, in wholesale denial of food, water, adequate shelter, right to property, freedom of movement, access to health care and hospitals, access to education, right to earn a living, right to integrity and liberty. These are basic human rights. And, these are human rights that are systematically violated by policies and practices of the Israeli government and the IDF on a daily basis throughout Palestine.

The recent Israeli bombing of a water treatment plant and the sole power plant that supplies electricity to sixty-five percent of Gaza Strip's 1.4 million inhabitants is just one example of collective punishment experienced by all Palestinians--regardless of religion, political or ideological persuasion, sexual expression or identity. To date, thousands of Palestinians are still without access to clean water and electricity during the hottest summer months.

In addition, the recent systematic violence by Israel targeting civilian lives in Lebanon and the deliberate annihilation of Lebanese infrastructure of water and electric power plants, airports, seaports, highways, schools and hospitals further widens the scope of collective punishment of millions of innocent civilians.

As an organization, and as a community that spans all continents of the globe, Al-Fatiha stands for justice, peace and self-determination for all people. We believe that all people have the inherent right to liberty, and to freedom of sexual and religious expression. We equally believe that all people have inviolable human rights, regardless of ethnicity, culture, or nationality.

The Al-Fatiha Foundation stands in solidarity with the many individuals and organizations, such as ASWAT and Helem, which are actively working for nonviolent, peaceful solutions to the violations of human rights in Palestine/Israel, and now Lebanon. We envision a time when all people, regardless of faith, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, culture, or nationality, may celebrate a true WorldPride in a united Jerusalem.

In Struggle and Solidarity,

Al-Fatiha Board of Directors