The queer girl underground in Palestine

View of Haifa, Israel

Haifa, Israel, where Aswat is based. Photo: David Shankbone


There are scores of women dancing, talking, eating, drinking. They come from different backgrounds—Muslim, Christian, Bedouin, Druze—but they’re united, as Palestinians and as queer. You’re finally home. This is a monthly party for LGBT women put on by Aswat, a decade-old organization for Palestinian queer women based in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, not far from the Lebanon border.

In Israel, a country that prides itself on being the most gay-friendly destination in the Middle East, Arabs experience discrimination for being Arabs, but they also suffer silently within their own Arab cultures for being queer. Add gender to this already complex duality, and you’ve got complications. From its inception, Aswat has faced these complications head on.

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