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LGBTQ peoples protest for Palestine

Published Mar 10, 2011 9:17 PM
Photo: desertpeace - Bud Korotzer

Hoisting signs proclaiming “Using queers to oppress Palestinians [is] just not fabulous,” “Don’t censor queer organizing” and “We need solidarity, not bigotry, Don’t lock out pro-Palestinian queers,” activists gathered in front of New York’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center the evening of March 5 to protest cancellation of an Israeli Apartheid Week event.

The demonstration culminated two weeks of outrage that began when LGBT Center Executive Director Glennda Testone unilaterally ousted the group Siege Busters and its planned “Party to End Apartheid.” Testone had acted after a small coterie of reactionaries, apparently backed by one or more wealthy financial donors, issued a news release calling IAW “anti-Semitic” and threatened to organize a boycott of the Center.

LGBT organizations and activists around the country denounced this move against queer solidarity with Palestine. Statements and letters demanding that the Center rescind its ban on Siege Busters were issued by groups including the Audre Lorde Project, Palestinian Queers for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions, Aswat-Palestinian Gay Women, Jews Against the Occupation-NYC, Irish Queers and by authors Sarah Schulman, Judith Butler, longtime activist Cleve Jones and other individuals.

More than 1,500 people have signed an online petition titled “Save New York’s LGBT Center! Don’t Let Wealthy Bigots Shut Down Free Speech!”

A multinational crowd of young activists and longtime organizers attended the March 5 protest, which took place at the same time that the banned meeting had been scheduled. They were loud, determined and energetic. Backed by the music of the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, they chanted “We’re here, we’re queer, and we support Palestine” and sang “Boycott Israel” to the tune of Lady Gaga’s song “Bad Romance.”

At the demonstration’s end, organizers promised to continue the struggle against the Center’s racist exclusion of pro-Palestine groups.