The Palestinian Authority has banned all LGBTQ political organizing in the West Bank in response to the news that a pro-LGBTQ advocacy group was planning to hold a gathering for its members at the end of the month.
The ban, which was first reported Sunday by the Jerusalem Post, was issued in response to the organizing efforts of Al-Qaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, a pro-LGBTQ political group that held an event last month and was planning to hold another in the coming weeks.
Palestinian Authority police spokesperson Luay Zreikat said that LGBTQ events were “harmful to the higher values and ideals of Palestinian society” in justifying the ban. Zreikat also accused unspecified “dubious parties” of attempting to “create discord and harm civic peace in Palestinian society” through the group’s events.
In response, Al-Qaws, which means “the bow” in Arabic, argued that it is an organization that is firmly embedded in Palestinian society and does not seek to disrupt it.
“The Palestinian police announcement about our activities is very unfortunate,” the group said in a statement. “It’s very strange that they are accusing us of being a suspicious entity working to take apart Palestinian society. Al-Qaws is a Palestinian organization that has been operating since 2001, and is carrying out educational and professional programs on sexual and gender diversity. We totally reject the attempt to create an atmosphere of prosecution and intimidation, as well as threats of arrest.”
An unnamed member of Al-Qaws also told the Post that he and his friends have received hundreds of death threats, most of which were sent through Facebook.
“The attack on us is unprecedented,” the man said. “They are calling us traitors and corrupt people and many are calling for our execution. We are afraid for our lives.”