The Palestinian Authority just banned all LGBT activities in the West Bank

The Palestinian Authority has banned all LGBT+ groups from carrying out activities in the West Bank.

The ban came after Al-Qaws, a group for sexual and gender diversity that supports LGBT+ Palestinians, planned to hold a meeting for members at the end of August.

Explaining the decision to ban Al-Qaws from operating in Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled areas, Luay Zreikat, a PA spokesperson, told the Jerusalem Post that activities from the organisation are “harmful to the higher values and ideals of Palestinian society”.

Al-Qaws’ activities are “unrelated to religions and Palestinian traditions and customs, especially in the city of Nablus,” Zreikat said.

The gathering, which was supposed to be held in Nablus, a city in the northern West Bank, was a “queer camp”.

According to the Times of Israel, it would’ve provided “a place for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth from Palestine to meet, learn about the basic concepts of gender pluralism and explore the different sides of our human sexuality”.

Al-Qaws operates in the West Bank and among Arab-Israelis. It was founded in 2001 with a stated goal of “fighting for vibrant Palestinian cultural and social change, building LGBTQ communities and promoting new ideas about the role of gender and sexual diversity in political activism, civil society institutions, media, and everyday life”.

The PA also said it is investigating those involved in organising with Al-Qaws and will arrest those who are caught violating the law.

It urged Palestinians to report to the police any violation of the law they witness.

Palestinian organisation Al-Qaws vows to keep operating.

Al-Qaws said it will continue organising despite the PA threats.

“The Palestinian police announcement about our activities is very unfortunate,” the group said.

“It’s very strange that they are accusing us of being a suspicious entity working to take apart Palestinian society. Al-Qaws is a Palestinian organisation that has been operating since 2001, and is carrying out educational and professional programs on sexual and gender diversity.

“We totally reject the attempt to create an atmosphere of prosecution and intimidation, as well threats of arrest.”

Members of Al-Qaws said that since the PA announcement, they have received hundreds of hate messages through Facebook.

“The attack on us is unprecedented,” they said. “They are calling us traitors and corrupt people and many are calling for our execution. We are afraid for our lives.”

Ahmad Harb, commissioner-general of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, condemned the PA police, saying that they were effectively calling for vigilante action.

“The Palestinian police’s statement regarding the barring of the gathering of ‘gays’ and activists from the Al-Qaws organisation and threatening to pursue them and asking citizens to secretly inform on ‘suspects’ is very bad,” Harb wrote on his Facebook page.

“It rises to the level of calling for ‘community violence and inciting a crime.’ Many understood this statement as a call to wastefully spill blood and take the law into one’s hands by implementing killing operations.”

“This is not how issues are handled. This is not how the police protects its citizens,” he added.