Tuesday, 26 July, 2011
BeLonG To Youth Services, Ireland’s LGBT youth organisation, is making an urgent call on IGLYO to be true to its commitment to human rights and reverse its decision to award the General Assembly to Israel. Human rights are universal, indivisible, interdependent and interrelated. As such we cannot stay silent when the rights of Palestinian LGBT young people, and those of their wider communities, are trampled on. We must speak and act from a point of steady principle and belief in the primacy of the human rights framework.
We would like to briefly summarise the compelling reasons for refusing to hold any part of the General Assembly in Israel:
- In 2005, over 170 Palestinian civil society organisations agreed on a call for international solidarity through Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) until Israel complies with international law.
- Palestinian LGBT groups are part of this consensus; they support the BDS movement and have called on IGLYO to boycott Israel.
- The non-violent BDS consensus has been supported by Boycott!, the Israeli coalition of Palestinians, Jews and citizens of Israel, which like other organisations, draws parallels with the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa.
- BDS is also supported by the group, Israeli Queers for Palestine, who point out that an IGLYO event in Tel Aviv would be used to exploit LGBT people by ‘pink-washing’ the Israeli state.
- BDS is also supported by Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (Toronto), and Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (New York City).
- BeLonG To is also inspired to speak out on this issue by the firm support of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) for BDS. The ICTU was the second trade union federation in the world to support BDS, after COSATU, the South African federation. We also remember Ireland’s solidarity with South Africa through the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement in the 1980s when many others in Europe were chastising those who supported that struggle.
Given the extraordinary consensus on BDS as the sole legitimate strategy in response to Israel, LGBT organisations and activists worldwide are called upon to recognise that we now face a situation analogous to the international boycott of South Africa during the apartheid era. We can no longer develop our own individual strategies in relation to Israel, no matter how ‘creative’ or ‘constructive’ we believe them to be.
We know that IGLYO members and Board are deeply committed to human rights principles and standards, and call on them to honour those values by recognising that the reasons listed above are based on human rights. As such, we believe they therefore trump any pragmatic questions of convenience, funding, or the administrative challenges of finding another venue.