Gays Under the Occupation

by NEVE GORDON

Jerusalem.

The police officer shoved the Palestinian into the patrol car. "This time," he said, "we are going to take care of you; I will personally make sure that you are sent back to where you came from."

For Fuad Moussa, a 27-year-old gay man who grew up in Ramallah, these words amounted to a death sentence.

Fuad is in imminent danger due to two "crimes": in Palestine he is persecuted due to his sexual orientation, and in Israel he is persecuted because he chose to live in Jerusalem with his Jewish partner, Ezra, even though he does not have a permit to be in Israel.

The two men met eight years ago, and for the past four have been sharing an apartment in a middleclass Jerusalem neighborhood; they work together in Ezra’s plumbing business. Their life was uneventful until the outbreak of the second Intifada in September 2000, when tens of thousands of Palestinian laborers had their entry permits into Israel revoked. Overnight Fuad’s life turned into a nightmare.

The Israeli police began profiling Palestinians, and on numerous occasions they caught Fuad, detained him and even deported him to the occupied territories.

Even though Fuad cannot stay in Israel according to Israeli law, going back to live in Ramallah is no longer an option; some of his fundamentalist Muslim relatives have stated in unequivocal terms that if he were to return they would kill him. This is their way of coping with the idea that their cousin is a homosexual.

The police, who are well aware of these lethal ramifications, have, nonetheless, refused to change their course of action.

With Ezra’s help, Fuad has managed to survive. Each time he was caught and deported across the border, Ezra would drive to the territories and smuggle him back the same night in the trunk of his car, which attracts little suspicion at checkpoints due to its Israeli license plates.

All this has changed in the past month. For some reason the police have decided to hunt the fugitive down and to put an end to the cat and mouse chase.

Knowing where Ezra and Fuad live, they detained the latter six times in a period of two weeks. Finally, during the last arrest, the police brought him to court at night, and, in a swift legal procedure, a judge ruled that he either be imprisoned or be deported immediately and permanently to Ramallah.

As a result of an appeal that was submitted by Ezra the following morning, the court put Fuad under house arrest for an indeterminate period. While he is confined to their one bedroom apartment, for the time being he is not in danger.

Fuad is surely not the only Palestinian who has a death sentence hanging over his head due to his sexual orientation; there are other young people who constantly have to hide, living in the shadows for fear of being deported from Israel back to the occupied territories.

Fuad Moussa’s life, however, can be saved with some public pressure. With one quick signature, the Israeli Interior Minister Avraham Poraz, a self-proclaimed liberal, can grant Fuad a Jerusalem residency card, which would allow him to legally remain in the city. Israel’s President Moshe Katzav can also ensure that such a card be issued.

Will Fuad spend the rest of his life in the shadows for fear of death, or will the Israeli authorities allow him to live with his partner Ezra? Your letter may help determine this question.

Write immediately — mentioning Fuad Moussa id 851611707 — to:

Interior Minister Avraham Poraz email: sar@moin.gov.il, pniot@moin.gov.il, pniot@moin.gov.il (send to all three)

or fax +972-2-5666376

President Moshe Katzav email: president@president.gov.il, public@president.gov.il (send to both)

fax +972-2-5671314

Please make sure to send copies to: fuadmoussa@hotmail.com by bccing the emails.

NEVE GORDON teaches politics and human rights at Ben-Gurion University and can be reached at ngordon@bgumail.bgu.ac.il

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