Last edited: May 17, 2004

Gays Attacked at Palestinian Protest Newscenter, May 16, 2004

By Peter Moore, London Bureau

London—Members of two British gay rights groups were attacked when they attempted to participate in a demonstration for Palestinian rights.

OutRage and Queer Youth Alliance went to the protest march at Trafalgar Square to show their support for people of Palestine. But they also urged the Palestinian Authority to halt the arrest, torture and murder of homosexuals.

As soon as they arrived at the square members of the two groups were surrounded by an angry, screaming mob of Islamic fundamentalists, Anglican clergymen, members of the Socialist Workers Party, the Stop the War Coalition, and officials from the protest organizers, the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC).

They variously attacked the gay activists as “racists”, “Zionists”, “CIA and MI5 agents”, “supporters of the Sharon government” and accused the gays of “dividing the Free Palestine movement”.

PSC organisers asked the gay activists to “stand at the back of the demonstration”, and when they refused blocked their placards with their own banners and shouted down the gay campaigners as they tried to speak to journalists and other protesters.

Most people at the Palestine protest expressed no hostility towards OutRage! and the Queer Youth Alliance. Some expressed positive support.

In the end, the gay groups were allowed to march in the demonstration. The two groups carried placards reading: “Israel: stop persecuting Palestine! Palestine: stop persecuting queers!”

“We call on the PLO and Palestinian Authority to condemn homophobia, uphold queer human rights, and to order an immediate end to the abuse of lesbian and gay Palestinians”, said OutRage! protester, Brett Lock.

“Having experienced the pain of homophobia, we deplore the suffering inflicted on Palestinians by the Israeli government”.

Another protester, Peter Tatchell, said: “Gay Palestinians live in fear of arrest, detention without trial, torture and execution at the hands of Palestinian police and security services. They also risk abduction and so-called honor killing by vengeful family members and vigilante mobs, as well as punishment beatings and murder by Palestinian political groups such as Hamas and Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement”.

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