What’s going on in the Palestinian Territories?
The Palestinian Territories of Gaza and the West Bank – also referred to as the State of Palestine – is a difficult part of the world for everyone who lives there. But LGBTQ people face additional challenges and hardships that make life particularly tough.
What’s the history of Palestine?
It’s important to understand the history of this region in order to be able to get to grips with the context of LGBTQ equality in Gaza and the West Bank.
The area known as Palestine – or the southern Levant – has an ancient history. Situated at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa, this part of the world has always been central to geopolitical affairs throughout the centuries.
In 1922, Palestine came under British control, and a plan to create a national home for the Jewish people began to gain momentum.
In 1948, the British put into effect the partition of Palestine – using part of the territory to create Israel as a state for the Jewish people, and using the other part to create Palestine for the Arabic people that lived there.
The results were incredibly messy – people were forced from their homes, there was civil war, and neighbouring countries attacked Israel. In the resulting conflict, Israel defeated the countries that had attacked it, and expanded its borders to cover a far greater area than envisaged by the partition plan. The two bits of territory that remained in Arab control were Gaza and the West Bank.
After decades of instability and conflict – and amidst ongoing uncertainty – the Palestinian Territories are now effectively self-governing.
Is it legal to be gay in the State of Palestine?
There’s administrative differences between Gaza and the West Bank that make things a bit confusing. Technically, male homosexuality is illegal in Gaza but not in the West Bank. This is because they’ve drawn some of their laws from different occupying forces. In reality, Palestine is such a socially conservative society and homophobia is so widespread and systemic that it’s simplest to describe the State of Palestine as somewhere that homosexuality is illegal.
What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Palestine?
If possible, LGBTQ generally seem to leave the State of Palestine when they can.
There are no legal protections from discrimination or hate-crimes against LGBTQ people. Often, LGBTQ people are subjected to violence and abuse from their own families.
There are reports of state-sanctioned persecution of LGBTQ people by police and security forces.