10 Feb 2012
Australian born British human rights activist Peter Tatchell photographed at his home in Elephant and Castle, London on 18th December 2009. Photograph: Richard Saker
PRESS RELEASE (London 9/2/12): LGBT and Human Rights Advocates Speak Out Against Israeli PinkwashingAs Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month gets underway in the UK, human rights advocates are adding their voices to the global responses to Israel’s attempt to ‘pinkwash’ its oppressive nature by portraying itself as progressive and liberal with regard to gay rights. In a letter to the press today, veterans of the Gay Liberation Front, Stop Clause 28, Outrage!, other campaigns and their allies express concern over the hi-jacking of LGBT rights as a propaganda smokescreen to divert attention from Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians.
Pointing out that the gay rights movement originated at the time of civil rights, anti-apartheid and Women’s Liberation movements, and drew inspiration from people striving for freedom from colonialism, they say it would be ‘ironic if, in an attempt to gain a veneer of respectability by promoting itself as a liberal, tolerant haven for gay people and a prime gay holiday destination, a regime routinely violating human rights, practising institutional racism and dispossessing an indigenous population’ tried to co-opt their hard-won progress.
Last year an anti-pinkwashing picket of a state-sponsored Israeli gay art exhibition took place in Soho, and more actions under the banner ‘No Pride in Israeli Apartheid!’ are planned. Trade unionists, feminists, Palestine Solidarity campaigners, activists, actors, academics and artists are rallying to express condemnation of pinkwashing and solidarity with Palestinian queer groups, who are part of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, as are anti-occupation Israelis who oppose Israel’s attempts to exploit LGBT rights to win legitimacy. ‘Marketing Israel to holiday-makers is particularly callous when there is a world-wide diaspora of ethnically-cleansed Palestinians prevented from returning to their homeland,’ Sarah Colborne, Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, said. ‘There are plenty of other places to enjoy beaches and clubbing without supporting a brutal, racist state at the expense of dispossessed people.’
‘The state of Israel is increasingly desperate for positive PR, and is under huge pressure from the international BDS movement to end its apartheid system,’ said campaigner Frankie Green, a GLF member in the 1970s. ‘They are spending millions on rebranding Israel, and pinkwashing is a deliberate part of that. London is hosting World Pride 2012, and we hope anyone encountering pinkwashing will remember the movement’s history and support the Palestinian quest for justice.’
No Pride in Israeli Apartheid!
Full text of letter below.
For information contact 07999847254 or 07971424296
Palestinian Queers for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions PQBDS
alQaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society http://www.alqaws.org/
February brings events marking Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History Month, and London will host this summer’s WorldPride Festival, four decades on from the Gay Liberation Front’s first Gay Pride events. Simultaneous and overlapping with the civil rights, anti-apartheid and Women’s Liberation movements, GLF also drew inspiration from the national liberation struggles of people freeing themselves from colonialism. The LGBT rights we now celebrate originate in the groundbreaking work of that era.
How ironic it would be if, in an attempt to gain a veneer of respectability by promoting itself as a liberal, tolerant haven for gay people and a prime gay holiday destination, an oppressive regime which routinely violates human rights, practises institutional racism and dispossesses an indigenous population tried to co-opt that progress.
As long-term advocates of LGBT and women’s rights, some of whom created the first Gay Pride events, we wish to express our concern at the cynical hijacking of those rights by Israel’s ‘pinkwashing’ PR campaign. The specious freedoms enjoyed by some Israeli gay people and visitors to Tel Aviv’s nightclubs bear no more relation to real equality than did the privileges accorded white people during South African apartheid. Pinkwashing tries to divert attention from the untold suffering caused by Israel’s subjection of the Palestinians to siege, bombardment, military occupation, ethnic cleansing, land theft, settler violence, killings (180 in 2011 alone), imprisonment, forced exile, the crushing of economic, educational and social infrastructure and denial of legitimate aspirations to self-determination.
We write in solidarity with Palestinian LGBT and civil society organisations who initiated the burgeoning global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to bring pressure to bear upon Israel until it complies with international law, and endorse their insistence on the universality of human rights. We invite all who share our abhorrence of Israel’s persecution of the Palestinians to observe the boycott of Israeli tourism and goods, and hope that LGBT people encountering pinkwashing will take pride in remembering the roots of our campaigning history and support the Palestinian quest for justice.
Frankie Green, Mary McIntosh, Peter Tatchell, Stuart Feather, Miriam Margolyes O.B.E., Pratibha Parmar, Linda Bellos O.B.E., Rumana Hashem, Jane Lane, Sarah Colborne, Director, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Professor Oishik Sircar