Archive - 2012 - 30/04/2012

Pinkwashing Discussions in Balkans, Arab world and Caucasia

At the 3rd Regional Network Against Homophobia held in Croatia during 10th Zagreb Festival, panelists from Montenegro and Israel took the floor to discuss on “Pinkwashing Discussions in Balkans, Arab world and Caucasia”. The panel was held with the moderation of Gordan Bosanac from the host organization on April 27, 2012.

Bosanac opened the discussion by stating “There was a ghost in the room with this topic. We wanted to open up the discussion in the Network. Not between Israelis and Palestinians, as it alwasy goes, but beyond. Governments have to pretent they like the gays, when actually they do not.”

Zdravko Cimbaljevic from Montenegro described the latest situation as: “Montenegro is somehow showing its face as a leader in the Balkans, and it is showing a lot of developments. But I can say the government is trying its best only on a rhetorical way. Police is now appreaching the community in a very sensitive way, and we even cooperate with police on demestic violence. On the other side, the government has hosted a couple of huge international conferences but there is no communication with the local LGBT organizations or the communtiy. It makes us ask: What is actually behind it?”

As for the Pinkwashing in specific, he said “A guest from the US was the guest of the Prime Minister to talk about LGBT rigths. He was giving a statement to the press, “How can people stay in the closet, when their government is so great?” So we ended up being the cowards in this small becautiful country. We looked like we were the problem makers.”

“In addition, the government keeps telling they love gays, but our organization has not been able to hear from any of the 21 municipalities so far. They are too afraid or too embarased to host us as a registered NGO.”

 

Yossef(A) Mekyton from Israeli Queers for BDS movement started his speech by first describing the history of the Israeli oppression: “In 1947, it was the British in chanrge of this region. They withdraw and there is a clash between the Jewish and Muslim communities. 800.000 Palestinians were pushed to different lands, and thousands of them were killed. To talk about Palestinian and Israeli LGBTs, Israeli secret service aproach mostly Palestinian gays, and drive them out of the closet if they do not cooperate with them.”

On Israel’s image on LGBT rights, he commented: “The Israeli state wished to present itself as the heaven for everything, of course for money. In Pride events, you can see how nationalism is well intergrated in LGBT events. For guys, army is a way of being integrated into the state institutions, and for lesbians, being able to give birth and therefor participating in the racist demographic war is the way.”

As for the discussions on Pinkwashing and Pride events in the country, he stated: “This years Pride theme is “The whole country is flooded with flags”. The line is similar from a nationalist song, and again, you can see the integration of nationalism in what is being done. It is ironic that minorities –of course the Palestinians- are invited to these Pride events. “Gays for the the right of return” is a slogan now that we use in return. The Pride is organized by the Tel Aviv Municipality, and a couple of private companies. “Community Pride” and “Radical Pride” are the alternative marchings to the Tel Aviv Pride.

Lastly Mekyton commented on the positve portrayal of Israel by public personas: “Michael Lukas, a gay Israeli pornographer, was invited to Israel by the Prime Minister after the movie “Inside Israel” was filmed in the ruins of the Palestinian lands. Lukas said ‘There is an ugly, anti-progressive Muslim image. I came here to show the beautiful side of Israel, and there is no better way other than pornography.’”

David Halperin, the key speaker of the Queer Festival from Michigan University, joined the discussions by adding: “I call this “window dressing”. Israeli case is a unique one, there is a political movement that the Pinkwashing is designed to disable the movement against occupation. They run a gay-positive policy, and it makes it a bit different from all the other Pinkwashings.”

Amar, an Iraqi women activist stated: “It is a comparison between “civilized Israelis” and “barbaric Arabs”. LGBT organizations are posting images of gays being hanged in Israel. Through army for gey men, through lesbians who are giving birth, the Pinkwashing is a lot more intense in Israel.”

Lastly, Boban Stojanovic from Serbian organization Queeria Center joined the discussions from a Balkan point of view: “Pinkwashing is hard to translate to different cultures and contexts. Israeli example is a unique one, but our governments have their own way of using LGBTs to cover up their corruption. Can Serbia become the next Israel? I cannot say that now, but for now, they do not show any progress for the human rights of LGBTs.”

Regional Network Against Homophobia meeting was initiated by Kaos GL in May 2011 and February 2012 and was held this time in the Balkans. The host of the meeting was the organization Queer Zagreb on the dates of April 25-29, 2012. The participating countries of the 3rd meeting were Albania, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Egypt, Georgia, Greece, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Montenegro, Palestine, Serbia, Tunisia and Turkey.