The Palestinian Authority banned an LGBT organization from holding an event in the West Bank amid fears that it might undermine the cultural values of Palestinian society.
Al-Qaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, an LGBT non-government organization with offices in Jerusalem and Haifa, had planned to hold an event in the West Bank city of Nablus.
Earlier this month, the Palestinian Authority banned the organization after they held an LGBT event. PA police spokesman Luay Zreikat said the group’s activities are “harmful to the higher values and ideals of Palestinian society,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
Zreikat also said that al-Qaws’ activism and events were “unrelated to religions and Palestinian traditions and customs, especially in the city of Nablus,” and accused “dubious parties” of trying to “create discord and harm civic peace in Palestinian society.”
The Palestinian Authority has called upon their population to report any activity on the part of al-Qaws, with the promise of confidentiality for informants.
In a statement published by The Jerusalem Post on Monday, al-Qaws denounced the crackdown on their organization as “very unfortunate” and rejected “the attempt to create an atmosphere of prosecution and intimidation, as well threats of arrest.”
“It’s very strange that they are accusing us of being a suspicious entity working to take apart Palestinian society. Al-Qaws is a Palestinian organization that has been operating since 2001, and is carrying out educational and professional programs on sexual and gender diversity,” the group said, according to The Jerusalem Post.
The Palestinian Authority does not have any laws against homosexuality, there is nevertheless a strong antipathy toward LGBT people in the region, according to The Times of Israel.
Ahmad Harb, commissioner-general of the Ramallah-based Independent Commission for Human Rights, took to social media to denounce the Palestinian Authority's decision.
“The Palestinian police’s statement regarding the barring of the gathering of ‘gays’ and activists from the al-Qaws organization and threatening to pursue them and asking citizens to secretly inform on ‘suspects’ is very bad,” wrote Harb on Facebook, The Times of Israel reported.
“It rises to the level of calling for ‘community violence and inciting a crime.’ Many understood this statement as a call to wastefully spill blood and take the law into one’s hands by implementing killing operations.”
Harb added that he believed this was “not how issues are handled. This is not how the police protects its citizens.”