Israel LGBT youth conference cancelled

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An international LGBT youth conference will no longer be held in Israel after Palestinian gay groups complained.

The International LGBTQ Youth and Student Organisation (IGLYO) general assembly was to be held in Tel Aviv in December.

However, Palestinian gay groups said that holding the event in Israel would inflame tensions and prevent delegates from some Middle East countries from attending.

After the controversy began, IGLYO asked members to vote on whether the conference should take place in the country.

Fifty-five per cent said it should, while 25 per cent abstained.

However, IGLYO announced late last month that it was concerned about “recent legal changes in Israel”, namely the country’s controversial new ‘boycott’ law.

Israel Gay Youth, which was to host the event, then decided to withdraw its proposal to host the event, although it will still host the International LGBTQ Youth Leadership Summit in the same month.

IGLYO says it is working on finding another venue for the 2011 general assembly.

British rabbi David Mitchell told the Jewish Chronicle that young gays and lesbians in Israel could be left isolated, while Gary Sakol of the Zionist Federation said: “The lesbian and gay community should be celebrating the freedom of choice people have in Israel, rather than moving the conference away due to pressure from small groups.”

However, the Palestinian Queers Group accused IGLYO of failing to address the “underlying issues” of the problem with regard to Israel-Palestine relations

The organisation added that IGLYO was guilty of “blatant hypocrisy” for allowing the youth leadership to remain in Israel and accused it of “de-facto crossing our picket line”.

In June, gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and US porn producer Michael Lucas set out their opposing arguments on the matter for

Mr Tatchell argued that holding the conference in Israel would inflame homophobia, cause divisions and stop delegates from the Muslim world attending.

Mr Lucas argued that Israel is a “beacon of LGBT emancipation” in the Middle East and that there are no delegates from the Arab world.