The Palestinian Authority has banned members of an LGBTQ advocacy group from conducting activities in Palestinian-controlled territories, threatening them with arrest and urging citizens to report violators, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The ban is aimed at the group Al-Qaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in Palestinian Society, which recently held an event in the city of Nablus and was planning another for later this month in the same location.
A spokesman for Palestinian Authority Police said the LGBTQ group's activities were "harmful to the higher values and ideals of Palestinian society" and "unrelated to religions and Palestinian traditions and customs, especially in the city of Nablus."
According to the Post, PA Police will actively pursue members of Al-Qaws for arrest and prosecution, and encouraged citizens to report anyone they suspect to be involved.
Al-Qaws issued a statement in response to the ban:
The Palestinian police announcement about our activities is very unfortunate. It's very strange that they are accusing us of being a suspicious entity working to take apart Palestinian society. Al-Qaws is a Palestinian organization that has been operating since 2001, and is carrying out educational and professional programs on sexual and gender diversity. We totally reject the attempt to create an atmosphere of prosecution and intimidation, as well threats of arrest.
Al-Qaws has been operating since 2001, aiming to "fighting for vibrant Palestinian cultural and social change, building LGBTQ communities and promoting new ideas about the role of gender and sexual diversity in political activism, civil society institutions, media, and everyday life."
The Times of Israel reported that Ahmad Harb, commissioner-general of the Independent Commission for Human Rights, expressed fear that the police were inciting violence against LGBTQ people.
"The Palestinian police's statement regarding the barring of the gathering of 'gays' and activists from the Al-Qaws organization and threatening to pursue them and asking citizens to secretly inform on 'suspects' is very bad," Harb wrote on Facebook. "It rises to the level of calling for 'community violence and inciting a crime.' Many understood this statement as a call to wastefully spill blood and take the law into one's hands by implementing killing operations."