LGBTIQA+ Jewish community group Dayenu Sydney says it is reconsidering its involvement in this year’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras over what it says is a hostile atmosphere that has been created around community opposition to the ongoing war in Gaza.
Dayenu Sydney singled out the actions of the activist group Pride in Protest for what it says is an “anti-Semitic campaign” that includes characterising Israel’s war in Gaza as a genocide and a form of neo-colonialism.
Pride in Protest’s float in this year’s parade is themed “Trans Pride Not Genocide” and aims to champion transgender rights while also “standing in solidarity with the people of Palestine against the colonial Zionist occupation, recognising the links between queer/trans struggle and the anti-colonial movements both in this country and abroad.”
Pride in Protest plans to use their float to “flood the Mardi Gras parade with Palestinian flags and messages of solidarity, striking a blow against [Israel’s] pinkwashing and showing our support for those facing violence in Gaza and the West Bank.”
Speaking to The Australian, a Dayenu Sydney spokesperson told the newspaper that it was questioning whether it could participate in this year’s Mardi Gras after 24 years of involvement in the festival.
“Due to an aggressive and ongoing anti-Semitic campaign by Pride in Protest, and a lack of consultation from Mardi Gras, Dayenu is reconsidering our involvement in Fair Day and the Mardi Gras Parade. We are concerned for the safety of our members in Sydney’s Queer spaces,” the Dayenu Sydney spokesperson said.
“Dayenu would like to remind our LGBTQIA+ community that Israel offers sanctuary … to members of our community fleeing oppression.
In its statement to The Australian Dayenu claimed that homosexuality was punished with the death penalty within Gaza.
However while LGBTIQA+ Palestinians have few legal rights and there have been extrajudicial killings of gay men inside the Palestinian territories, violence against LGBTIQA+ people is not officially sanctioned under Palestinian law in either Hamas controlled Gaza or the Palestinian Authority controlled West Bank.
In 2016 Hamas executed one of its own commanders over allegations of homosexuality and corruption, while in 2022 a gay Palestinian asylum seeker who had been living in Israel was murdered in the West Bank just weeks before he was due to be resettled in Canada.
Dayenu Sydney were also critical that an open letter from Mardi Gras addressed to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese that called for a ceasefire in December had not directly addressed Hamas’ deadly incursion against Israeli civilians on October 7 that had sparked the war.
Mardi Gras responds
In response to Dayenu’s comments in The Australian, a Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras spokesperson said that Mardi Gras has “always stood for peace, inclusivity, and the right of all individuals, including both Israeli and Palestinian LGBTQIA+ communities, to live without fear and free from persecution.”
“The wellbeing of all members of our community, irrespective of their background, is of paramount importance to us. The letter expressed concern for both the Israeli and Palestinian LGBTQIA+ people affected by the ongoing conflict.”
The spokesperson confirmed that Mardi Gras was “equally supportive of our Jewish and Palestinian community members, and our commitment is to always advocate for peace and safe spaces.”
“We understand the complexities and sensitivities of such issues and the impact they can have on individuals within our community. It is not our intention to cause distress or feelings of unsafety. We value the voices of all our members and are committed to ensuring that every individual feels safe, respected, and represented in our events.
“Moving forward, we will continue to engage in listening to our communities to better understand the concerns of all our members. Ensuring a safe, diverse, respectful, and inclusive environment at our events is always our utmost priority. We are dedicated to working collaboratively to foster a space where every voice is heard and respected.
“Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras remains steadfast in our mission to champion equality, celebrate diversity, and advocate for the rights and wellbeing of the LGBTQIA+ communities, both locally and globally.”
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