On the day of World Pride – We say no to Pinkwashing

Josh shares his notes from one of the many LGBT meetings which are happening over the weekend.

I went to this meeting on the eve of World Pride to hear about the struggles of Palestinian LGBT people, who as we learnt in the meeting are using their movement to challenge not only their oppression but the Israeli state as a whole.

Haneen Maikey, the director of the Al Qaws organisation gave an inspiring presentation of the issues surrounding the movement in Palestine.

She highlighted the need to struggle against the Israeli state, noting that unlike in Britain, Palestinian activists have no government to demand equality from.

As she said: “We don’t have a government to ask equality from. We have an apartheid state, but this is privileged because it means we can raise sexual liberation.”

Haneen went on to argue that in Palestine. “‘we can’t be gay, live in pink bubbles and leave the Palestinian struggles behind.”

She later explained how Israeli LGBT organizations work with the government to promote the Israeli state and military. These organisations invite soldiers to recruit openly among their membership. This ties into the ‘Brand Israel’ PR campaign launched in the last few years to promote progressive images of the occupied territories.

The speakers went on to show how pinkwashing is built on the colonial logic , so therefore its not only built on how progressive Israel is but how they present Arab and Palestinian societies as those who really oppress LGBT people. The speaker detailed how oppression of sexualities in both the West and Middle East had developed over time but challenged the idea that the Middle East is somehow more homophobic then European countries.

One noted that the dea of Muslim societies being inherently homophobic is false, in fact homosexual acts were commonly accepted in Middle Eastern societies until the rise of British colonialism in those countries.

The reason for progress in western countries recently has been down to struggles, from the 1969 stonewall riots onwards. This was counterposed against the idea of humanitarian intervention which is often launched by countries who once introduced that homophobic legislation. This was the case for LGBT people following the invasion of Iraq where the situation for them deteriorated quickly.

There were three important things that activists in Britain can do to support the struggles of LGBT activists in the middle east, they were:

1. Oppose war drives by our governments. Let’s not let the ruling use our oppression to launch wars against others.

2. Support movements in these countries such as that of Al-Qaws in Palestine.

3. Fight austerity in this country, unite our class and show solidarity.

As Haneen suggested : “There is no hierarchy in struggle, struggle for the liberation for Palestinians, the LGBT struggle is part of the strategy for this!”

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