At the core of our identity is equality 

Statement by Türkis Rosa Lila Tipp – 05.12.2023

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Since the 7th of October, the world has been witnessing the horrific suffering and escalation of violence in Palestine and Israel.

On the 21st of October, when five United Nations agencies in a joint statement called for the “World to do More”, a resident of the Villa displayed the Palestinian flag on the side façade in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Since then, the Villa has been bombarded with hate mails ranging from negative stereotyping and insults to vilification. The different groups in Villa were accused of being antisemitic, anti-Jewish, anti-Israeli, and pro-Hamas. A viral comment from a journalist insinuated that the flag was re-installed on the facade on the particular date of Novemberpogrom. The journalist insinuated that the Villa aims to expressly show signs of disrespect to the Jewish community in Vienna. We vehemently reject these allegations and affirm our position of condemning violence and extremism and systemic violations of human rights and dignity.

Additionally, in the days leading to the 29th of November, the Villa was broken into, items were stolen from its offices and an Israeli flag was forcefully placed on its façade. Public threats followed on Instagram with photographs of the Villa stating, “we are just around the corner”. 

The FPÖ has taken this to further push their anti-Arab racism, their queerphobia and in its continued campaign against Villa, using political narratives to silence our work. 

The Villa has been and will continue to be a symbol and a fighter for equality. This very reason for the existence of the Villa has put us and will continue to put us under constant attack of extremist groups with loud antisemitic symbolism and intimidation. 

The Villa’s community does not succumb to the social pressure of making normative stands.

Nothing can justify the horrific massacre and taking civilian hostages by Hamas. Any terrorist act, anywhere in the world has to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. The following indiscriminate bombardment and displacement of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza cannot be relativized and they are also to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. 

We stand against human suffering. As we call to heal the roots of violence, we do express our empathy with both Palestinians and Israelis being directly or indirectly affected by the events. We are deeply convinced that care towards human life only in Gaza or only in Israel is not caring towards human life at all as this is a biased approach to humanity.

We believe that both Palestinian and Israeli people have equal rights of life, freedom, and security. These are basic human rights. We cannot simply get used to violations of human rights of a group of humans, because of one or more parts of their intersectional identity. While observing human rights violations, there is no side to take, other than the side of those whose rights are violated.

We won’t forget Austria’s and Austrians’ particular role in the Shoah in Europe. We are also not apologetic about our position in condemning crimes against humanity in Gaza. As queers we know how it feels to be told that our existence is wrong, our life is worthless, and that we should disappear. We speak up against oppression and pressure. We strongly believe in equality beyond antisemitic, colonial, patriarchal and heterosexist norms. The Villa refuses to reproduce normative boxes that are widely circulated in discussing the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. We refuse to adhere to these social pressures and to binary political grouping.

The majority of the media, as well as extreme right wing political factions, are applying binary thinking onto the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 

A Palestinian flag does not represent support for Hamas. The Palestinian flag is a UN and globally recognized symbol of the Palestinian people (as of 2 June 2023, 139 of the 193 United Nations (UN) member states have recognized the State of Palestine). Today, binary thinking is conflating the Palestinian flag with the Hamas flag, making it viewed as a symbol of violence, instead of the flag of an oppressed people. Similarly, anyone showing solidarity with the suffering of the Palestinian people is being demonized and accused of supporting terrorism.

Supporting the human rights of Palestinians, does not make anyone pro-Hamas. Being critical of the Netanyahu government does not make you antisemitic. On 10th of November, the Austrian UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said “The solution to this situation is the end of the occupation, and full respect for the right to self-determination for Palestinians”. Does this mean Volker Türk is antisemitic?

Pinkwashing is being used to impact public perception of the conflict and dehumanize a society, a people, a minority.

Pinkwashing abuses the hard-earned accomplishments of queer activists. It is used to make accepting violence easier and to compromise on shortcomings of the actor of violence. By highlighting LGBTIQ+ friendly legislation and broad acceptance in Israel on one side, and violent suppression of queerness by Hamas in Gaza on the other side, the binary system Pinkwashes the crimes of ultraconservative groups in Israel and makes it easier to accept any military measure, however lethal, against humans in Gaza. 

Queerness exists everywhere, even if oppressed. Reminding ourselves that queerphobia is one of the direct heritages of colonialism. Just because our queer siblings in Gaza cannot express themselves as freely as our queer siblings in Israel, it doesn’t mean they don’t exist. There are Palestinian queer activists who have been silenced by pinkwashed oppression. How many of them are now dead due to the war? 

Binary thought leads to ‘selective’ understanding and will never be accepted within queer solidarity. Freedom and Equality are at the center of our work. Non-binary thinking is applied in all the work we do.      

The Villa strives to build a community that is protective. The cycle of anti-Semitic and anti-Arab violence in Vienna can be broken through more active listening, pro-active care and the feeling of justice rather than dehumanization, state-violence and censorship. 

The Villa is committed to creating safer spaces of care for each other. The Villa will therefore be organizing a series of care-focused sessions for people who identify as queer and Jewish/Israeli as well as for people who identify as queer and Arab/Muslim. We will also be organizing open workshops to discuss antisemitism, Islamophobia, Arabophobia, and different forms of discrimination within the scope of this humanitarian crisis. Information about these activities and groups will be shared in due course. 

 Our Stance 

§  We condemn antisemitism and war crimes. We firmly support unity against any form of dehumanization.

§  We join the international humanitarian and political community towards the protection of all civilian lives.

§ We call for necessary measures to ensure that the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis are equal and fully protected.

§ We Stand Against Pinkwashing and Binary Thinking 

About Türkis Rosa Lila Villa:

The Türkis Rosa Lila Villa is an empowerment project by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, inter* and trans* people. When it started as an accommodation project in 1982, it was clear to the residents at the time that it was not just about living spaces, but also about emancipatory politics. 

The centre includes today private living spaces, offices for associations and a public bar/restaurant for the community.

The villa is managed by the association Türkis Rosa Lila Tipp.

Further reading:

Please also note the links provided within the text above.