Shady politics of GayMiddleEast
Last March, Pink Watching Israel published an article in which they exposed the website Gay Middle East as having “shady politics” with close Zionist connections and “who has never carried any of the anti-apartheid statements by LGBT groups in the region. ”
That the largest Middle East LGBT (well, G mostly)”grassroots news” website is run by British Israeli Zionist Dan Littauer is already cause for concern. The fact that GME regularly collaborates with neo-colonialist Islamophobes such as Peter Tatchell [See Out of Place, Out of Print] (the guy with a penchant for threatening lawsuits against those who don’t think he is god’s gift to oppressed gay people) doesn’t help his credentials much. Bizarrely, he is also the human rights and press officer for the Association of British Muslims. Barring the logic of such a position, Littauer is also quite friendly with Islamophobic pornographer Michael Lucas, whose recent campaign against Siegebusters, a NY-based anti-apartheid group, successfully got them banned from meeting at the NY LGBT center. Lucas, by the way, is making a name for himself uttering such gems as “Muslims have not contributed to civilization in any way”. He is also famous for making gay porn film “Men of Israel”, which had its setting on the ruins of homes of Palestinians displaced in 1948.
There is a degree of deceptiveness about Gay Middle East which Mideast Youth in a post “Que(e)rying the Israel-linked GayMiddleEast.com: a statement by Arab queers” compares to Tom MacMaster’s “Amina”.
MacMaster’s deception brought many issues to the fore, and the least interesting are the stories GayMiddleEast.com has been plugging about how, contrary to what MacMaster has portrayed, gays are actually really oppressed. Perhaps more relevant in this context is an honest discussion about how to do solidarity work in a way that is respectful of people’s lived realities. That includes knowing what the limits of solidarity are, especially when you are outside the community you claim to care about, and when you occupy a position of privilege.
Both MacMaster and Littauer have chosen the wrong path; they have both put themselves front and center, the former by actually deceptively adopting the persona of a queer Arab woman, and the latter by acting as a spokesperson and gatekeeper for queer Arab voices with a direct line to the Western media.
The statement by Queer Arabs reminds me of the “Statement of Warning” made by African LGBTI activists to Peter Tatchell and Outrage in February 2007…
In order to prevent Peter Tatchell and Outrage! from causing further damage through their unfounded campaigns and press releases, we issue this public statement of warning.
As Human Rights Defenders from across Africa, we strongly discourage the public from taking part in any LGBTI campaigns or calls to action concerning Africa that are led by Peter Tatchell or Outrage!
Collaboration across continents is both important and valuable. We are willing to work with those who respect our advice and expertise regarding our continent.
However, Outrage! has been acting in contempt and disregard of the wishes and lives of African Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex (LGBTI) Human Rights Defenders. We have made every attempt to address this matter with Outrage!, personally, and they have refused to listen. We now take this matter to the public, requesting you not to take part in any of Peter Tatchell or Outrage!’s campaigns regarding Africa, as they are not factually-based and are harmful to African activists.
In both cases Queer Arab and African voices are being co-opted by white men. With the help of a handfull of collaborators both on the continent and in the Diaspora they continually attempt to discredit our voices but worse grossly undermine grassroots struggles and take credit for any successes and acts of resistance. Queer African voices like our Queer Arab sisters and brothers..
“are not victims in need of a white saviour working in London, nor do we need a conduit for our poor brown oppressed voices to be heard in the West, which seems to be GayMiddleEast.com’s intended audience.
LGBT racism and transnational resistance: A short timeline
– In Toronto, Queers Against Israeli Apartheid is banned from marching at Pride. After massive protests against the censorship, the group is allowed back into the march.
– In Berlin, Judith Butler, a BDS supporter, refuses to accept the Pride award for
civil courage in response to the racist enmeshments of the Pride organizers, and instead passes the award on to anti-racist organizations in Berlin
– In Oslo, there are discussions if Pride should for the first time start in the “homophobic” neighbourhood Grønland, popularly imagined as Muslim.
– In London, gay activists linked to the neo-fascist English Defense League organize the East End Gay Pride march through Tower Hamlets, an inner-city areas constructed as Muslim. The official march is stopped after resistance from queer Muslims, other queers of colour, and their allies .
– In Brussels, there are discussions if the Pride parade should this year start in the migrant neighbourhood, and if it should be headed by LGBT-asylum seekers carrying posters that thank the Belgian nation.
– The NYC LGBT Community Center cancels Israeli Apartheid Week and denies the organizers access to the space.
– In Paris, Inter-Pride uses a gallic cock in tricolore to advertise an event (in imitation of a Front National image). Following a spontanous anti-racist coalition, the image is withdrawn.
– In Lyon, a queer kiss-in in front of a Mosque is narrowly prevented.
In response to the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, where 9 people were killed by the Israeli Army, the state-sponsored Israeli delegation is excluded from taking part in the Pride.