Palestine LGBTQ community protests stabbing of transgender Arab teen
For the first time, the Palestine LGBTQ community are raising their voices to protest the violence targeting them.
Around 200 demonstrators– Arabs and Jews from the LGBTQ community and social activists– gathered at Haifa to protest the attack of the transgender teen outside a shelter for LGBTQ youth in Tel Aviv.
The 16-year old youth, who was from Tamra, a Palestinian city in northern Israel, was reportedly stabbed by his brothers.
According to the activists, this was the first-ever LGBTQ protest in Israel that focuses on the Arab community.
Palestine LGBTQ community makes their move
Rula Khalaileh, an organizer for the protest, said their demonstration “represents a voice calling for liberation without restraints– not of the occupiers, and not of the patriarchy.”
The protest was organized by 30 Palestinian LGBTQ groups, including alQaws (advocates for sexual and gender diversity in Palestinian society), Aswat (feminist queer movement for sexual and gender freedom for Palestinian women), and Adalah (legal center for the protection of Palestinian rights in Israel).
“We reject and condemn the stabbing of the Tamra teen on the basis of his sexual and gender orientation,” said a statement in Arabic that was released before the protest.
“This is a historic moment,” said Widad Assaf, a Palestinian activist, adding that: “Violence against LGBT people occurs all the time, but it took time for people to take to the streets. We hope this won’t stop here.”
Issues facing the Palestine LGBTQ community
Khalaileh said: “This is the first-ever protest of the queer Palestinian movement, based on the principles of an intersectional struggle between queer-Palestinian struggles and struggles against the occupation.”
She further said the protest was extensively covered by Arabic media: “This is the first time that all Arabic media outlets were forced to talk about the issue, and published the statement released by the organizations.”
Another LGBTQ activist, Jawarah, described the problems he faced as a queer Palestinian: “Arab-Palestinians are already on the margins of society due to the state’s oppression, so a person who also carries a different gender identity– both the government and his own society work against him.”
The only member of parliament to join the protest, Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman said: “We are here to emphasize the personal freedom of each and every person to choose their own life path. This is a historic event. This is the first-ever public protest.”
Transgender teen survives attack, investigation ongoing
The Israeli police have already arrested the two brothers on suspicion of stabbing the youth for his sexual orientation.
The brothers denied committing the attack and have turned themselves over to the police.
The two were seen arguing with the victim outside the Beit Dror youth shelter. Though seriously wounded, the youth had undergone surgery and is now in stable condition.
Yael Sinai, who manages the LGBT shelter house, said during the protest that: “The impact of this hatred is immense.”
She added: “The stabbing is only a peak to the political violence that members of the transgender community face from the Knesset, from the religious establishment, and the local authorities.”