Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib respond to Palestinian LGBT ban

Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have responded to the Palestinian Authority banning all LGBT+ groups from carrying out activities in the West Bank.

Omar and Tlaib both shared an online statement from Al-Qaws, the Palestinian LGBT+ group banned from holding a “queer camp” by the PA police, which listed “Five ways to support Palestinian queers”.

Omar, 36, added to the Al-Qaws post: “Right wing media asking us about this, can you listen up and amplify it correctly!”

Omar had earlier tweeted: “LGBTQ rights are human rights and we should condemn any effort to infringe upon them. But we should also condemn any effort to equate this with the occupation or use this as a distraction.”

Last week, both congresswomen were banned by Israeli prime minster Benjamin Netanyahu from visiting the country over their vocal criticism of his government and their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Tlaib and Omar – the first two Muslim women elected to Congress – held a press conference Monday, August 19, where they continued to criticise Israel.

“The decision to ban me and my colleague — the first two Muslim American women elected to Congress — is nothing less than an attempt by an ally of the United States to suppress our ability to do our jobs as elected officials,” Omar said.

The two women also accused US president Donald Trump of trying to “pit Muslims and Jewish Americans against each other”.

“The Muslim community and the Jewish community are being made into the boogeyman by this administration,” Omar said.

Tlaib likened Netanyahu’s decision to a ban imposed on a member of Congress seeking entry to South Africa during apartheid in 1972.

“History does have a habit of repeating itself,” Tlaib said.

Palestinian Authority said ban is because LGBT+ group is ‘harmful’.

Explaining the decision to ban Al-Qaws from operating in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, Luay Zreikat, a PA spokesperson, told the Jerusalem Post on August 19 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”. Al-Qaws is an LGBT+ rights organisation that supports LGBT+ Palestinians.