Friday, January 27, 2006

Palestine, Poland & gays

I can't imagine a poltical setup less favourable to the development of democracy and civil society than the plight of the Palestinian 'authority' (protectorate, colony, homeland?) and the despair its population/prisoners and John Berger has some insightful comments here, but the Palestinian elections are not good news for gays, some have already had to flee to Israel and Hamas are concerned about gay 'peverts' along with mixed dancing.

These are interesting comments on the site of ASWAT Palestinian Gay Women:

Many women in the Palestinian society are living their identities and sexuality in secret. We believe that this is a result of the patriarchal structure of our society where surviving means being silent; silent in our neighborhoods and villages, silent inside our families and schools, silent within women’s organizations, and often even with each other. Palestinian patriarchal society does not accept, and often aggressively rejects, any expression of ‘otherness’. When women dare to identify themselves outsides the borders of prescriptive traditional gender roles and identities, they face violent exclusion, or even worse, violence against their own bodies and property. One strategy to reinforce silence on and subordination of women's sexuality or sexual energy and potential is through sexual violence. This is the reason why, until now, Palestinian women have hardly ever organized or dared to protest, resist, and insist upon creating a space to deal with issues of women's sexuality and lesbianism. Furthermore, as Palestinian women living inside the borders of Israel or in the Occupied Territories under Israeli occupation, we belong to an internally displaced population that does not enjoy equality in power, resources, education, culture, or religion. In addition to our feminist struggle for equal rights, privilege and opportunity in our society, we are at the same time very much part of a national struggle for recognition in our civil minority rights (Palestinian who live in Israel comprise about 20% of the population of Israel). As long as women participate in the struggle for national liberation, we are welcomed and our efforts are appreciated. Some women can, in fact, leave the private sphere only if their activities serve men’s strategic and political aspirations for national liberation. The moment women want to focus their energies in establishing independence from the male occupation and structure, they are transformed instantly into enemies. The competition between different, sometimes clashing needs and struggles, puts us in peculiar situations where we are demanded to prioritize one struggle over the other or to choose our ideological 'loyalty' in a multi-layered reality and among potential partners. In this sense, ASWAT offers a unique perspective on social change in light of the conflict between identities and political struggles.

Christians working hard here also, new Polish president worried about 'peverse demonstrations' by gays.


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