ACT UP New York revives historic protest banners in powerful display of solidarity with Palestine

ACT UP New York used historic LGBTQ+ slogans, including "Silence=Death", to show solidarity with Palestine.

Act Up protestors hold water melon signs to demonstrate solidarity with Palestine
Image: Instagram @actupny

On Saturday, January 6, ACT UP New York showed its solidarity with Palestine by joining a powerful rally calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and standing up against pinkwashing.

ACT UP, or AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power, is a volunteer-run organisation made up of a “diverse, non-partisan group of individuals, united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis”. The queer organisation marched alongside Jewish Voice for Peace NYC and the NYC Palestinian Youth Movement, with protestors displaying homemade signs which included some historic LGBTQ+ slogans, like “Silence=Death”, to show solidarity with Palestinians.

ACT UP’s Instagram post about the event said, “We refuse to stand by idly as a mass genocide is being committed with our tax dollars, tax dollars that could be spent on HIV/AIDS research, treatment and prevention but is instead being funnelled into the US war machine.”

Photos from the protest show the iconic pink triangle symbol transposed in a watermelon and the “Fund Healthcare, Not Warfare” slogan which the group created in 1991 to protest the Persian Gulf War.



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A post shared by ACT UP NY (@actupny)

ACT UP activists have been standing up against government negligence since the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. The organisation fights LGBTQ+ discrimination worldwide, and ACT UP New York has participated in several recent protests in support of Palestine, including on World AIDS Day in December.

In the past three months, Israel has killed over 23,000 Palestinians, most of whom are women and children, and displaced 2 million people which is about 90% of Gaza’s population. During this devastating warfare, Israel has used pinkwashing to distract from the violence committed.

Pinkwashing exists when a group pretends to offer support for the LGBTQ+ community but actually profits or benefits from this action. These signs of solidarity are performative and often cause harm to marginalised people.

Israel activists have been accused of pinkwashing since the Israeli government claims to support LGBTQ+ people in the Middle East while actively causing violence and harm to so many. They have also used LGBTQ+ voices to distract from its brutal attacks against Palestinians.

In December, over 240 queer artists signed an open letter calling for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and challenging Israel’s history of pinkwashing. The letter states that “queer liberation is fundamentally tied to the dreams of Palestinian liberation: self-determination, dignity, and the end of all systems of oppression.”

Locally, protests continue in Ireland, Europe and the UK. Saturday’s march in Dublin was Ireland’s largest pro-Palestine national demonstration to date. It was organised by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) and included thousands of participants.

Although Joe Biden has expressed concern over Israel losing international support with mass demonstrations happening all around the world, the US government denies that Israel is committing genocide and continues to supply the state with billions of dollars in military aid.

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