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Last Updated:  Thursday, 6 March, 2003, 18:34 GMT
'Death threat' to Palestinian gays
Palestinian militant
Homosexuals are accused of collaborating with Israel
Civil rights campaigners in Israel are trying to stop the deportation of a Palestinian homosexual back to the Gaza Strip, where they say he faces death threats.

They are appealing to the Israeli Supreme Court to overturn the order against the man.

Campaigners say the 21-year-old fled to Israel four years ago after being arrested and tortured by Palestinian police because of his sexuality.

They say he is one of nine Palestinian homosexuals arrested in Israel over the past two months as part of a crackdown on Palestinians who have entered the country illegally.

On Thursday, two Palestinian homosexuals were reportedly sent back to the West Bank after sheltering in Israel for the past two years.

A spokesman from the Israeli Society for the Protection of Personal Rights (SPPR) said that until recently Israeli authorities had turned a blind eye to Palestinian homosexuals who had fled to Israel in fear of their lives.

It is indescribable how bad life is for these people
Shaul Gonen, Society for the Protection of Personal Rights

The society says it is looking after 25 Palestinian homosexuals who sought refuge in Israel after being persecuted in their communities.

"They fall between all the chairs," Shaul Gonen told BBC News Online. "Nobody wants to take care of them."

"It is indescribable how bad life is for these people," he said.


He warned that if the 21-year-old Palestinian homosexual is deported to the Gaza Strip on Sunday, "there is no way that he is going to stay alive there".

Mr Gonen said the man fled from Gaza to the West Bank four years ago after escaping from Palestinian police custody, but his own family tracked him down and tried to kill him, so he ran away to Israel.

Now, he said, his life is in danger again.

"In the West Bank and Gaza, it is common knowledge that if you are homosexual you are necessarily a collaborator with Israel.

"The fact he has been in Israel for so long and not deported until now - now they are sure he is a collaborator."

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