06/06/2011 | Writer: Kaos GL

LGBT organizations should look for supporting policies and actions in favor of groups who are subjected to racist, ethnocentric, and discriminatory practices, not for the state policies.

Dear Board of IGLYO,
As Kaos GL, a member organization of IGLYO, we are writing this letter in response to the statement issued by the IGLYO Board upon the understandable reaction given by the 3 different Palestinian LGBT organizations and their call for a change to be made in the location of the next IGLYO conference in Israel.
We would like to state that we consider your statement on behalf of the Board of IGLYO and the reasons you put forward in the statement are quite unfortunate. This particular problem which has been caused by your statement is an urgent one that cannot be postponed until the Amsterdam meeting! Instead of postponing the handling of this problem, you should take the responsibility of the outcomes of your politically-shortsighted decision and you should at once look for a way to find a constructive solution for the situation. At this critical moment, a constructive solution can in no way be the policy of staying “neutral”! “Staying neutral at times” can also mean nothing else but becoming a party, or in lighter words, it could amount to shunning responsibility.
With your politically imprudent decision, your responsibility as the Board of IGLYO has become now doubled. Firstly you should listen to the representatives of the Palestinian LGBT community. Equally important is your other responsibility to firmly stand against any negative position that would attempt to identify the Israeli government with the representatives of the Israeli LGBT community.
When the representatives of the Palestinian LGBT community do not or cannot participate in this meeting, the Board of IGLYO will not be in a “neutral” position! It is perfectly possible that the Israeli LGBT community may have been the only group to make an official proposal to host this meeting; however, the responsibility of the Board of IGLYO would be to investigate the likelihood of living up to its avowed objective to constitute a “platform for all” and to make decisions in line with this purpose. At present, can you, as the Board of the IGLYO, or the organization assigned to host the meeting reassure us that members from all over will be allowed fair participation?
It is common knowledge that, in the current war atmosphere, the first group to be forsaken will be the Palestinian LGBT people and that they are being practically deprived of the solidarity they need to break the twofold siege they are being subjected to. With the “open letter” issued by the Board of IGLYO, the circle is being closed even tighter for them; whereas no questions are asked to the Israeli hosting organization about their proposed solution, the representatives of the Palestinian LGBT community, who cannot/will not participate in the meeting, are told “to go their own way.”
It is clearly not fair to dump the burden of the most important issues of the Middle East on the shoulders of the Board of IGLYO. You are surely not expected to act as a “mediator”! Undoubtedly, all LGBT organizations must make it a duty to act responsibly against any policy aimed at the isolation of the Israeli LGBT community, or any anti-semitic attitude blaming the Israeli LGBT community for the misconduct of the Israeli state. On the other hand, the condition in which the Palestinian LGBT community is forced to live is in itself an outcome of the Israeli state policy. The fact that LGBT representatives from the countries the region will not be able to take part in a meeting convened unilaterally in Israel will mean first and foremost that the siege to which the Palestinian LGBT community is subjected to is ignored. In this way, the Palestinian LGBT community will be excluded once more and become silenced in the platform in question. Under these circumstances, the responsibility belongs not only to the Board of IGLYO but also the representatives of the Israeli LGBT community, whom we always give our full support in the face of anti-semitic attacks.
Supporting the LGBT community and its representative organizations as independent of the states is the first duty of not only IGLYO but all organizations defending basic human rights. For the LGBT communities living in areas of conflict, the method of consciousness raising must involve creating horizontal networks through which involved parties can establish dialogue and striving for the creation of independent zones as well as developing policies. Acting otherwise would only re-create the present prejudices and increase alienation instead of consciousness.
LGBT organizations should look for supporting policies and actions in favor of groups who are subjected to racist, ethnocentric, and discriminatory practices, not for the state policies. The demand coming from the Palestinian LGBT community is clearly and only a call for such a position. The solidarity among the international LGBT community should start from our LGBT brothers and sisters right beside us.
Organizing a meeting in Yerevan and blaming the Azeri LGBT people for not participating in such a meeting, or conversely, planning a meeting in Baku and holding the Armenian LGBT people responsible for their absence would not be an act of ingenuity, nor a good “policy”! The real trick lies not in the reinforcement of the state politics in the hands of the LGBT but to empower the LGBT community against authorities. 
Dear Board of IGLYO, we invite you to review your decision in accordance with the demands of the Palestinian LGBT organizations!
Kaos GL
(Kaos Gay-Lesbian Cultural Research and Solidarity Association)

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