Believe it or not, an event at San Francisco State University (SFSU) called Queer Justice Now was claiming to fight for the LGBT community when it was actually an exercise in homophobia. Not one LGBT organization sponsored the hate fest. This “LGBT” event was hosted by the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Studies Program (AMED), a department already marred in controversy. The true intent of the event was to demonize Israel and draw in LGBT supporters for the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign by accusing Israel of violating human rights. However, what they failed to disclose was how the LGBT community is treated in the Palestinian territories.
As a gay Black man, I’m furious that this event was ever considered to be appropriate. This was a poor attempt to conflate the LGBT struggle with that of the Palestinians. AMED tried to play LGBT students as fools and hopes they will blindly support this event because its title mentions Queer rights.
AMED is trying to take advantage of the LGBT community to build support for the BDS movement by claiming “Palestine is a Queer issue”. In reality, they simply want to use our voice to demonize Israel. This is especially ironic given the conditions under which LGBT people suffer in Palestinian controlled territories. That said, maybe they are not so wrong about “Palestine” being a Queer issue – the “issue” is how LGBT people are treated by Palestinians.
In both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, LGBT people suffer horrendous persecution and violence for just being who they are. Hamas has outlawed homosexuality and violators could face long prison sentences for their so-called crime. In the few places that homosexuality is technically illegal, one can suffer horrible torture and execution for even being suspected of homosexuality.
Israel on the other hand has become a mecca for the LGBT community in the region. In fact, it’s the only place in the Middle East that people like me are allowed to be themselves. Tel Aviv even hosts the biggest pride parade in the Middle East.
SFSU is attacking Israel on multiple fronts on campus including a BDS resolution soon up for a vote in the student government. But why would we side against the only nation in the region that stands up for LGBT rights? For us to side with the anti-Israel activists would strip others of the rights we hold so dearly. It is our responsibility to work against the lies spread by the radical anti-Israel activist at SF State.
Anti-Israel radicals are incredibly hypocritical to say they’re advocating for better conditions for their people while they actively persecute those who identify as gay. It is hurtful that AMED and SFSU thought LGBT students could be fooled into joining the BDS campaign knowing the current Palestinian leadership’s disastrous history with LGBT rights. SFSU needs to end its onslaught of hate against Israel and stop trying to muddy the waters with misleading events. It’s transparent, disingenuous, and harmful to the LGBT community on campus.