Article by Nazeeha Saeed and Azza Sultan
Design by Lina A.
LGBTQI activists from all around the world and especially in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are concerned about the Israeli state violence in East Jerusalem, in Gaza and everywhere else on the apartheid and occupying state of Israeli land and occupied Palestinian territories.
The world is horrified by Israel’s use of disproportionate and deadly force against Palestinians in Gaza which have already resulted in the killings of hundreds of Palestinians, including children, and women. This comes within the context of Israel’s 14-year illegal blockade on Gaza which has created an open-air prison with severe shortages of life-saving medicines, food, electricity, and clean water, making life unsafe and unbearable.
Queer activists from MENA region who believe in the intersection of human rights, feminist, and queer struggles, stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in general and LGBTQ people in particular who are currently at risk of losing their homes and their lives.
In this article, we examine the vision of LGBTIQ activists in the Middle East and North Africa region of this intersectionality by answering crucial and critical questions such as how is anti-colonialism a feminist and queer issue? and how do the humanitarian violations in the occupied Palestinian territories affect us as a queer movement in the region?
Ayouba El Hamri – Founding member of Nassawiyat – Morocco
“As queer and trans people, we have a responsibility to speak up about colonialism because colonialism uses patriarchal, racist, and homophobic tools and systems through racial colonialism.
On top of this, women and queer people are also victims of colonial systems and have been in the forefront of decolonial fights. Throughout history, in Algeria, Morocco, but also in Palestine, women have taken the streets, organized, and actively fought colonial oppression. We must honor this traditional and stand for decolonial struggles, like the Palestinian struggle.
Azza Sultan- Queer and Feminist Activist- Co-chair of The Queer Women Network “QWN” – Sudan
As a queer and feminist activist, I strive to clarify how masculinity, racism, and the long-term political, economic, and cultural impacts of colonialism affect us as women and as LGBTIQ people in particular.
Therefore, I have no doubt that one of the priorities of my struggle should be to support Palestine and the LGBTIQ Palestinians in their struggle against Israeli colonialism to the same extent that I support all the oppressed and marginalized people anywhere in the world. … It is time to mobilize our forces in all different social and liberation movements and direct our energies, resources, and strategies to find common points and build strategic alliances in order to build a just, inclusive, and safe world for all of us.
Zoheir Djazeiri Co-Founding member TransHomosDZ -Algeria
“As a queer person, I must fight against racism, colonialism, misogyny and all forms of oppression. In short, it is not possible, in my opinion, to differentiate between “Black lives matter,” Me too “and” Love wins “and” free Palestine” or “No to pink-washing “. It is about the same fights operated by the same oppressions. After 15 years of LGBTQI + activism, I have today come to the conclusion that No rights can be obtained without the intersectionality of all these struggles which are in reality only one struggle, that of human rights, of freedom and dignity for all”.
Noor Sultan- Co-founder/Executive Director – Bedayaa Organization – Sudan
“Anti-colonialism is central to our struggle against oppression and persecution. Colonial thought is a thought that carries within it violence, racial discrimination, and discrimination on the basis of identity and gender. We are very keen to ensure that our vision carries the intersectional struggle that is conscious and aware of what pink-washing is and its constant danger to movement. Rights are indivisible, and killing, displacement and systematic violence against Palestinians is a violation of basic human rights”.
Fawwaz AlAjmi – Human Rights activist – Kuwait
“The queer movement is a “liberating” movement” in the first place, so it is natural for the movement to be hostile to any colonialism, oppression, and Humanitarian violations against the Palestinian people. The oppression of the Palestinians is a persecution for us all, a persecution of our cultures, for our identities and hostility to us all. Therefore, it’s a sign of resistance for the queer movement starts from there, thus creating an echo for all of us to open our constitutions and shake off what was left by colonialism on our lands, because we are all still under some kind of occupation”.
Malak Elkashif – Founding member of Transat – Egypt
Anti-colonialism is a feminist and queer issue, given the deterioration of the queer movement in Egypt -for example, but not limited to-as a result of British colonialism, which at that time imposed controls on gender and sexual orientation on all its colonies in the whole world. The Palestinian LGBTIQ movement is part of the regional LGBTIQ movement, when it is affected, the progress of our regional movement is affected at the level of social awareness and political presence.
We defend Palestine not on the basis of Arab nationalism, but rather on the basis of our presence in a regional queer movement that stems from a greater global movement.
Hashem Hashem- Poet and Queer Artist-Lebanon
Queer feminism, in its nature, starting point, and goal is total justice, the support of marginalized peoples and groups, and ending colonialism, tyranny, apartheid, enslavement of human beings and unjust exploitation of natural resources. So, it goes without saying that Palestine is our top priority.
As queer movements, our struggle for justice transcends borders and nations. Violation, injustice, and marginalization anywhere in the world is our cause.
We are also an integral part of our region and our peoples; the Israeli occupation of Palestine and its people affects all our countries and nations politically, economically, socially, culturally and of course security-wise, which puts us at the heart of this struggle whether we like it or not, and of course we want to be at its heart.
Khawla Bouaziz- Project Coordinator / Secretary-General in Mawjoudin – Tunisia
Colonialism lies within the roots of feminist and queer issues. Colonialism, in all its forms throughout history has always had one basic element that goes against the feminist and queer cause: the theft of one’s autonomy. As an oppressive structure, colonial countries use hate, violence, deprivation of one’s rights, and many other techniques rooted in the patriarchy to oppress their colonies, and as vulnerable communities are often at the bottom of the pyramid in terms of priorities, these communities end up further marginalized and oppressed under colonization.
Palestine stands in a uniquely dangerous situation amidst this reality: the Palestinian queer community does not only suffer from the violence of patriarchal social norms, unlawful practices, and identity-criminalizing laws, but also have to suffer a double discrimination being under the colonization of “Israel”
Naya Rajab-Queer and Trans Activist- Syria
The Palestinian issue has always been very intersecting with the feminist and queer issue, as we can only liberate our bodies from the restrictions and stereotypes that society and the state impose on us when we liberate the land in Palestine. The occupations and mandates that took place in our Arabic-speaking region contributed to keeping us into labels and stereotypes that help its oppressive capitalist systems, and this had a great impact on the process of our pursuit of justice and equality for all LGBTIQ people. Whereas we are still continuing the battle to liberate our bodies from the restrictions imposed by colonialism that our region witnessed, starting with the unfair laws that colonialism instituted in our countries and ending with the liberation of Palestine and the advancement of our societies from the shell in which we were thrown by the Israeli occupation after the June setback.