Associated Press retracts claim that homosexuality is illegal in the West Bank

Associated Press has retracted a claim in a widely-shared article that homosexuality is illegal in the Palestinian territories.

The article was printed in newspapers including the Guardian and Daily Mail last week, after rainbow flag graffiti painted on the Palestinian side of the Israeli West Bank barrier was covered over.

It claimed that a “law banning homosexual acts remains in effect in the West Bank”. Homosexuality is not illegal across the Palestinian territories, as it was decriminalized in the West Bank in 1951 – though some parts of Hamas have supported the death penalty for gay people.

There are little protections for LGBT people in Palestinian territories, however, and there remains a strong social taboo.

AP said in a clarification: “In a story June 30 about Palestinian protesters whitewashing a gay pride rainbow flag, The Associated Press reported erroneously that homosexual acts are banned by law in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“While homosexuality is largely taboo in Palestinian society, there are no laws specifically banning homosexual acts.”

Despite the clarification, widely-shared copies of the story in a number of publication are yet to be edited.

The Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry recently released a cartoon that depicts gay people in Gaza being murdered by Hamas.

The cartoon, titled “Open your eyes about Gaza”, mocks foreign journalists who report on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

As a man standing in front of a pride flag is wrenched away screaming by Hamas, the reporter says: “There is no doubt that the Palestinian society here is liberal and pluralistic, and that Hamas allows everyone to live in dignity.”

A rifle is heard firing in the background as the gay man’s screams continue, and then suddenly stop.

The cartoon has since been removed. There is no record of execution of gay people in Gaza.