LGBTQ Arabs, Allies Hold First-ever Protest in Israel Following Teen's Tel Aviv Stabbing

After arrests of family members in attack of 16-year-old outside youth shelter, Haifa protest dedicated to acceptance of LGBTQ people in Arab society

A protester holds a pro-LGBTQ rights sign at a protest in Haifa on August 1, 2019.
Amir Levy

Some 200 people protested in Haifa on Thursday against homophobia in the Arab community, following the stabbing of a 16-year-old teen suspectedly by his brothers outside of an LGBTQ shelter in Tel Aviv last week.

The protesters – Arabs and Jews from the LGBTQ community and social activists – called for acceptance of LGBTQ people in Arab society, noting the challenges these individuals face in the Arab community. According to activists, it was the first-ever LGBTQ protest in Israel to focus on the Arab community.

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Hadash lawmaker Aida Touma-Sliman attended the protest, telling Haaretz, "There is no room in our community for using violence against the LGBT community. The time has come for us to have a clear stance that will protect them from any discrimination, oppression or physical violence."

Protest organizers and prominent activists sought to avoid speaking with Israeli media, saying that the protest was dedicated to the Arab and Palestinian community, and in an attempt to draw Arab supporters to the protest. The protest was announced in Arabic, and organizers defined it as a Palestinian protest and refused to be interviewed.

Protesters for LGBTQ rights in Haifa on August 1, 2019.
Amir Levy

Last week, Israeli police arrested two men on suspicion of having committing the stabbing outside the Beit Dror youth shelter.

The police said that the brothers, residents of the northern Israeli Arab town of Tamra, had handed themselves over to the police and are being questioned. The suspects, who deny involvement in the incident, say they did not know that they were wanted and that the police had searched for them in the wrong house.

The police suspect that the victim's brothers, who were seen arguing with him outside the Beit Dror youth shelter on Friday, stabbed him because of his sexual orientation. He was seriously wounded and underwent surgery in Ichilov hospital, where he is currently in stable condition, his room guarded by the police.

A source at Beit Dror said that authorities were aware that the boy was under threat. He was removed from his home under orders from social services due to harassment from his family. Following the suspects' arrest, Beit Dror expressed relief and said it will continue, "despite the difficult circumstances, to try and make the youth staying there feel protected."