Appeal to help a gay Palestinian refugee

August 6, 2009

QuAIA has received this appeal for help for a gay Palestinian in Gaza seeking refuge and medical treatment in Portugal. We have verified the details of this story through Amnesty International and LGBT organizations in Portugal.

“Mahmoud” was born in Saudi Arabia, but returned to Gaza — the birthplace of his parents — at the age of 12, in 1997. It was around the same time that he discovered his homosexuality. When his family learned this news, he was repeatedy beaten by his father and nine uncles; if it hadn’t been for the intervention of his mother, he would likely not have survived. When Israel attacked Gaza in May of 2008 (the January assault was only the most recent one), his father threw Mahmoud out of the house, thinking it was the perfect opportunity to get rid of him. This is what happened next, in his own words:

“The tanks were about 200 meters from our house and approaching. Outside, there were snipers that I couldn’t see, so I began to run. Suddenly, I remember a big explosion and blood all over my body, coming from my head. Some women came and tried to help me, and I was taken to the European Hospital. My heart stopped twice, but they saved me — barely.”

Now blind in his left eye and with shrapnel still embedded throughout his body, Mahmoud was allowed to go to Egypt, then Syria, in search of treatment that would save his eye and remove the shrapnel moving ever closer to his carotid artery. Unfortunately, it now appears that this treatment can be obtained only in the West. His ultimate dream is to get that treatment — along with asylum, and freedom from persecution — in Portugal, where his boyfriend of two years lives. “I just want to be safe and happy,” he says.

Amnesty International has arranged for him to get to Portugal, but we need to raise money for his airfare, temporary lodging along the way and the procedural requirements imposed by the Portugese embassy. We figure we can make this happen if we can raise about $4,500, and we already have raised $1,000 of that. Can you help? Even $10 or $25 will bring him one step closer to safety and health.

A Portuguese association called “Opus Gay” is collecting and disbursing the funds. There are several ways to send the money to them.

Send cheques and money orders payable to “Pam Rasmussen” to:

Pam Rasmussen
17612 Hollingsworth Dr.
Derwood, MD 20855

Send cheques or money orders (Euros preferred) made out to “Opus Gay” care of Amnesty International:

Amnistia Internacional
Av. Infante Santo, 42, 2º,
1350-179 Lisboa
ATTN: D. Oliveira

Send the money to Opus Gay directly:

Obra Gay associação
Rua da Ilha Terceira, 43- 2º –
Lisboa 1000-173

Wire the money to Opus Gay (this costs a lot of money):

IBAN PT 5000 33 000000 22963 8286 05