by Rex Wockner
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Youth and Student Organization (a.k.a IGLYO) on July 28 canceled plans to hold its December annual conference in Israel after being criticized by Palestinian LGBT activists and some of its own member groups.
“This (support from IGLYO members) can only be seen as a continuation of the beautiful spirit of global solidarity, dominant during the South African anti-apartheid struggle and ongoing in solidarity with the rights of the Palestinian people, and oppressed people everywhere,” said the group Palestinian Queers for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. See http://www.tinyurl.com/3pazvzs.
PQBDS said IGLYO’s holding the gathering in Tel Aviv – and its “acceptance of funding from the Israeli government” – would have “directly implicate(d) IGLYO in Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid, and Israeli efforts to ‘re-brand’ Israel.”
In cancelling the gathering, IGLYO said the final decision had been made by local host group Israel Gay Youth following passage of a new Israeli law that makes it a civil offense to support boycotting, sanctioning and divesting from Israel – tactics that some IGLYO member groups apparently favor.
“Recent legal changes in Israel raised some concerns of the board of IGLYO,” the group said in a statement. “In robust discussions between IGLYO and IGY following the passage of the new law and following the decision of the board of IGLYO to open a new round of consultation with member organizations, IGY subsequently decided on July 24th to withdraw its proposal to host the 2011 General Assembly as the location of the GA was subject to further consultation and possible change. (This) created an unstable environment in which to plan the General Assembly.” See http://www.tinyurl.com/3wlkftd.
IGLYO’s statement said “there has been much debate on the proposed location of the GA (in Israel) by IGLYO member organizations and also by LGBTQ and human rights allies,” and that the debate had a “complex nature.” At one point, IGLYO’s member organizations voted 55 percent in favor of holding the gathering in Tel Aviv, with 20 percent opposed and 25 percent abstaining from the vote. See http://www.tinyurl.com/3nmuk4v.
Meanwhile, Israel Gay Youth will go ahead with an event that was to be a companion gathering to the IGLYO assembly.
The International LGBTQ Youth Leadership Summit will take place as scheduled, and IGLYO’s board said it “acknowledge(s) the opportunity that such a meeting would present (for IGLYO’s) member organizations, and therefore, support(s) IGY in this event.”
The Palestinian Queers group denounced IGLYO for supporting the companion summit, accusing IGLYO of “blatant hypocrisy” and “de-facto crossing our picket line.”