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2010 National Women's Conference
21 October 2009

Conference welcomes the 2009 TUC Congress resolution, submitted by the FBU, and statement from TUC General Council which:

1)condemned the Israeli offensive on Gaza and its continuing blockade on the territory;

2)called for a negotiated settlement based on international law and justice for the Palestinians; and

3)committed to work with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) to:

a)build a boycott campaign targeted at goods from illegal settlements and;

b)campaign for disinvestment by companies involved in the occupation and the wall.

Conference notes that the language of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights has increasingly been used by pro-Israel organisations and individuals to criticise support from within the LGBT communities for the rights of the Palestinian people. There have been a number of articles in LGBT media comparing LGBT rights in Israel with the absence of such rights in other countries in the Middle East, some of which present a picture of “tolerant”, gay-friendly Israel and homophobic, “Islamofascist” Palestine.

Conference recognises that homophobia is a problem in Palestinian society and that, as a result, many LBT Palestinian women face social ostracism and discrimination, and in some cases, physical violence. At the same time, however, there are many openly LGB Palestinian women and there are two Palestinian organisations working to support LGBT Palestinians and to promote respect for sexual and gender diversity in Palestinian society: ASWAT, founded in 2002, a group which aims to provide safe space for any Palestinian woman who identifies as lesbian, bi-sexual, transsexual, transgender or inter-sexual, and Al-Qaws, a group which began in 2001 as a project of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance and became an independent organisation in 2007, constituting the first-ever official Palestinian LGBTQ organization.

Conference further recognises that Israel only enshrines some rights for some LGBT people. Palestinian women who are citizens of Israel, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity, are second-class citizens, who face legally sanctioned and everyday discrimination and racism in all areas of life. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza are subjected to collective punishment, restricted freedom of movement, routine human rights abuses, detentions, checkpoints, and bombing campaigns.

Conference recognises the importance of working within our union to win support for the Palestinian people, to campaign for recognition of their rights and to bring pressure on the British government to end complicity in denying the rights of the Palestinian people.

Conference instructs the National Women’s Committee to develop its work amongst women members to win support for the Palestinian people in line with UNISON policy, and to:

i) Publicise the work of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and encourage women members to join

ii)Work with the National LGBT Committee to raise awareness of the issues particularly affecting LBT Palestinian women

iii) Consider developing links with Palestinian women’s organisations and inviting a speaker from ASWAT to the 2011 women’s conference