Arab Lesbians Hold Conference In Haifa

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A rainbow flag, a symbol of gay and lesbian community pride.

Arab lesbians gathered Wednesday in Haifa at a rare public event, quietly defying protests from Islamists and a taboo in their own society.

So strong is the antipathy toward homosexuality in their communities that only few of the Arab women in the crowd of about 250 were gay - a sign of how much Arab women feared being identified as lesbians, said Samira, 31, a conference organizer, who came with her Jewish Israeli girlfriend.

"We'd like all women to come out of the closet - that's our role. We work for them," said Samira, who battled her own family when they found out she was a lesbian.

Among Israel's Arab citizens, who make up 20 percent of the country's population, homosexuality is taboo to most.

Tango’s Take:

Now that’s solidarity. The straight joining the rainbow coalition to show their support. But it makes sense that women would stand behind women, when, in certain Arab countries, every baby step toward asserting your rights requires more than a village. But maybe there’s a larger lesson in all of this; If more Americans showed up and stood up in favor of gay marriage (not just Brangelina, who say they won’t say “I do” till every Tom, Dick and Harry can profess their love to each other, too), surely there would be a new slew of registries hawking sex toys and rainbow table runners by now?

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