'Queer Lisboa' drops Israeli sponsorship following boycott campaign
Portugal - 'Queer Lisboa', Lisbon's gay and lesbian film festival, dropped its long-standing sponsorship from the Israeli Embassy following a sustained campaign by activists advocating for the boycott of Israel until it abides by its obligations under international law and respects Palestinian human rights. The Israeli embassy has sponsored the festival for the past many years as part of its "Brand Israel" campaign launched in 2005, which aims to divert attention from Israel's violations of international law and Palestinian rights to its artistic and scientific achievements.
A coalition of Portuguese pro-justice organizations, which include queer-rights group "Panteras Rosa" and the Portuguese Committee for Solidarity with Palestinians have picketed the event in the past three years demanding that the organizers drop the immoral sponsorship. The protests were widely covered in the Portuguese media bringing the festival into disrepute. Last year, Canadian filmmaker John Greyson withdrew his participation from the Portuguese festival after learning of the sponsorship. In a statement Greyson, who had been awarded the highest accolade of the festival in 2009, said “As both Palestinian and Portuguese queer activists have pointed out, this funding violates the 2005 call of Palestinian civil society, which urges artists and academics of conscience to boycott the Israeli state, in protest against the ongoing occupation.”
Sérgio Vitorino, a spokesperson for "Panteras Rosa" said, "Israel uses queer events to 'pinkwash' apartheid, diverting attention from its oppression of Palestinians as well as the real homophobia confronted by the LGBT community inside Israel and by lesbian or gay Palestinian living under a brutal military occupation." Vitorino added, "We praise the decision of Queer Lisboa to drop this sponsorship so we can now proceed with celebrating the true message of the festival, one of equality and tolerance."
The Portuguese Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign was launched in 2009 by a diverse coalition that includes solidarity, human rights and anti-racism organizations in response to a unified appeal by the majority of Palestinian civil society in 2005. Learn more about the global campaign on: http://www.bdsmovement.
For more information or interviews contact: Sérgio Vitorino (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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