The Arab-Palestinian LGBT community in Israel organized an unprecedented protest on Thursday, August 1, as approximately 200 demonstrators arrived at the German Colony in Haifa, a central area in the city, to protest violence targeting the LGBT community.
The protest was organized after a 17-year-old from the Arab city of Tamra was stabbed Friday afternoon, July 26, outside Tel Aviv’s Beit Dror shelter, after moving there to escape family pressure.
The demonstration in Haifa was planned by a group of more than 30 organizations, including Al-Qaws, a civil society group advocating for sexual and gender diversity in Palestinian society; Aswat, a feminist queer movement for sexual and gender freedom for Palestinian women; and Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. “We reject and condemn the stabbing of the Tamra teen on the basis of his sexual and gender orientation,” they wrote in a statement released before the protest.
Demonstrators waved pride flags alongside flags representing the transgender community and Palestinian flags. They held up signs in Arabic saying: “Queers against violence and sexual harassment,” and “Silence kills. It’s time we raise our voices.”
“This is the first-ever protest of the queer Palestinian movement, based on the principles of an intersectional struggle joining together queer-Palestinian struggles and struggles against the occupation,” said Rula Khalaileh, an organizer with the “Women against Violence” organization. “We are here to protest against all forms of violence and oppression against members of the LGBT community in Arab society,” said Joint List candidate, Hadash MK Aida Touma-Sliman. “We are here to emphasize the personal freedom of each and every person to choose their own path in life. This is a historic event. This is the first-ever such public protest.”
On Sunday July 28 about 1,000 protestors marched in south Tel Aviv against transphobia and violence against LGBTs, to mark a year since the killing of a transgender teen. During the protest, Yael Sinai, who manages the LGBT Beit Dror shelter outside which the Arab teen from Tamra was stabbed late last month, said that the stabbing was an especially violent incident, but that “it is in no way the only experience of violence that these teens encounter.”
The rally was attended by Joint List candidate MK Ofer Cassif, who said that Hadash is committed to stamping out violence against the LGBT community. The lawmaker condemned the political allies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party for expressing support for dangerous “conversion therapy” and other controversial anti-gay initiatives.