‘Queers for Palestine’ must have a death wish

A woman holds a placard, "Queers 4 Palestine"
A woman holds a placard, "Queers 4 Palestine"

When I first heard the phrase “Queers for Palestine”, I assumed it was a joke, a meme dreamt up by some Right-wing wag on Reddit. There is surely no way actual gay people would cheer on a state infamous for its loathing of homosexuals.

For all their zaniness, surely not even purple-haired, post-gender activists would take to the streets, Pride flag in hand, to champion a country that would jail them, if they’re lucky, and bump them off if they’re not.

But it’s not a joke. These people are real. This is where wokeness has taken us – to a situation where the young of the West are throwing their lot in with a regime that would throw them from a top-floor given half a chance.

“Queers for Palestine” has become the source of much online mirth in recent weeks, following Hamas’s October 7 pogrom. And deservedly so. People have compared it to “Chickens for KFC”. I saw one comment on Instagram noting that if these people actually went to Palestine, especially Hamas-ruled Gaza, their pronouns would be “was / were”.

I feel tempted to say “it’s funny because it’s true”, but none of this is funny. Palestine has an atrocious record on LGBT rights. In 2021, the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles carried out a survey of 175 nations and their acceptance of gay and gender-non-conforming people.

Palestine was at number 130. Behind Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The “Queers for Palestine” would literally be better off in the notoriously homophobic petro-Kingdom of Saudi Arabia than in their favourite victim nation.

Gay people face staggering levels of persecution in both Gaza and the West Bank. Jail and sometimes even death awaits those who commit the “sin” of carnal knowledge with a member of the same sex.

In 2016, Hamas executed one of their own top dogs, Mahmoud Ishtiwi, reportedly for sleeping with a man. Last year, 25-year-old Ahmad Abu Marhia, a gay man, was beheaded by thuggish homophobes in Hebron in the West Bank. Footage of this gruesome hate crime was uploaded to social media.

At the time of his death, Mr Abu Marhia was seeking asylum in… you guessed it, Israel. That might be because, where Palestine was at number 130 on UCLA’s list of gay-friendly states, Israel was at number 44.

Many gay Palestinians flee to Israel, usually to the famously flamboyant cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa. A few years ago, the Israeli gay-rights group Aguda estimated that around 2,000 LGBT people from Palestine live in Tel Aviv at any one time. The Jewish State gives them a haven from homophobia. It allows them to be their true selves. If they were to try that in Palestine, ridicule and violence would be their lot.

It’s fine to make fun of “Queers for Palestine”. But let us take a moment to reflect on how rank it is that these privileged Westerners dream of erasing the one nation to which LGBT Palestinians can flee for safety and liberty.

It is grotesque that in New York, London and Berlin, young gay people who enjoy every right known to man are singing the praises of a nation that would happily persecute them, and damning a nation in which they could live freely and happily. “Queers for Palestine” is condemning “Queers in Palestine” to further torment and tyranny.

For if these virtue-signallers were to get their way, and the only thing that existed between “the river and the sea” was Palestine, Palestinian homosexuals would suffer unimaginably. The removal of Israel and the emboldening of Hamas would make life intolerable, unlivable in fact, for gay Palestinians. With friends like this, who needs homophobic oppressors?

This is what happens when advertising one’s virtue takes precedence over thinking carefully about other people’s needs; when the narcissistic needs of spoiled Westerners are accorded more importance than the rights of faraway peoples. All that matters in the self-regarding moral universe of “Queers for Palestine” is the warm glow experienced by those who march behind that deranged banner. Actual Palestinians – gay, straight, whatever – are little more than bit-part players in the self-promoting morality plays of well-off Westerners keen to advertise their decency to the world.

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