British LGBT Rights Activist to be Deported, Banned from Entering Israel for 10 Years

Gary Spedding, 23, is expected to be deported from Israel to the UK later today.

Gary Spedding, 23, is expected to be deported from Israel to the UK later today. [Image: Facebook]

A British LGBT rights and political activist, Gary Spedding, has been detained at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport upon arrival from the UK, and is expected to be deported later today. He has also been told that he faces a 10-year ban on entering Israel.

Spedding, 23, arrived at Ben Gurion Airport at 4pm local time (2pm Dublin time) on Thursday afternoon, where upon presenting his passport at Security, was asked to step aside and wait. According to +972 magazine, airport officers took the Briton to an investigation room and questioned him for a number of hours, which included taking his mobile phone “for around five hours” and copying information from it. 

Gary Spedding is an LGBT political blogger and activist from England, who studied at Queen’s University Belfast. While he has written extensively on LGBT issues in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the UK, he is well known for his critical analyses of both Israeli politics and Palestinian support campaigns, including his criticism of Israel over so-called ‘pinkwashing’. During his time in Belfast, he founded the Palestinian Solidarity Society at Queen’s University, and has had political ties with both the SDLP and the Alliance Party, having worked as campaigns officer for Alliance Youth.

Spedding regularly posted to his Twitter account while being detained at the Israeli airport, adding that he had been subjected to a “horrendous set of searches including [a] very personally invasive ‘body search’”:

+972 reports:

“They told me they’d hold me for nine days until my return flight, so as not to have to pay for my deportation,” Spedding said. The security team questioning Spedding then changed, and one official told him a decision was made to deport him and ban him from Israel for 10 years. “I was told this was a fact, not a threat, and there was nothing neither I or my government could do,” said Spedding, who is a dual Australian and British citizen.

Once his phone had been returned to him, the LGBT activist posted onto Twitter that he had been in contact with members of the European Parliament, British Parliament, Dáil Éireann (Irish Parliament), the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and members of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Despite his time spent in Northern Ireland, it is uncertain what influence Irish authorities would have regarding a British citizen in this case.

About Scott De Buitléir

Scott De Buitléir is an author and poet from Dublin, Ireland. He is founder of EILE Magazine, a digital publication for the Irish LGBT community, and has published several works of poetry, non-fiction, and fiction. He lives in Cork with his partner.

9 comments on “British LGBT Rights Activist to be Deported, Banned from Entering Israel for 10 Years

  1. Hahahahahahahahaha

  2. You say “he has written extensively on LGBT issues in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the UK”, yet the link provided describes him as “a freelance Journalist covering the Israeli and Palestinian conflict”. I am not familiar with the works of Mr. Spedding, but there seems to be conflicting information of what his expertise actually is.

    • Hi Michael,

      The link you refer to is not meant to show Spedding’s journalistic work, but to specifically refer to his PinkNews article on pinkwashing. Gary Spedding has written extensively on LGBT issues for the Huffington Post, Belfast Telegraph, PinkNews.co.uk and others, and therefore, the information given is not conflicting. You can read Spedding’s articles on HuffPost here: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/gary-spedding/

      • Its a bit sad that Gary (and others with him) is caught in a dilemma – on the one hand, he is anti-Israel, on the other hand, while Israel holds Gay Pride events, the people Gary supports won’t have anything to do with LGBT’s. So Gary comes up with “pinkwashing” – “Israel is not really pro-gay rights, they just pretend to be so we think they’re OK – see how cunningly devilish they are. And its really not that bad for gay Arabs”. His dilemma is wholly self-made though, so I have no sympathy for his woes.

    • He did not get kicked out of Israel for being gay (if indeed he is) he has expertise in nothing. An expert would not be stupid enough to think that the Israelis would not have enough knowledge to know that he is at best an idiot at worst dangerous. So goodbye missing you already see you in ten years time or not.

  3. Michael for once come out of your bubble. A writer who writes extensively on LGBT isn’t bound to support every ridiculous and anti-human rights move taken by a country which allows LGBTs to live equally. As a gay journalist, or as a gay friendly journalist, being anti-Israeli occupation isn’t a crime (supposing he is anti-Israeli occupation). Meanwhile your comments are self contradictory. You are against a gay man being hounded by Israel for being anti-Israel and call him nuts for “supporting Arab” who aren’t gay friendly at all. Stereotypy, convenience, hypocrisy and apathy; you have exhibited them all.

    • Never said Gary, or anyone else, is bound to support Israel, never said its a crime being anti-Israel, never said I am “against” Gary, never called him “nuts”.

      Only thing I said is that I think the theme of “pinkwashing” is a ridiculous attempt to smear the only country in the Middle East where gay people have a chance to lead a normal life, accusing it of being “pro-gay for better PR”.

      I expect people, even the most venemous critics of Israel, to be able to admit Israel has its good sides, to give Israel the credit it deserves for its efforts on LGBT rights, and say out loud that the surrounding countries (and not only those) have a lot to learn from Israel, on LGBT topic and many others. Those who can’t admit Israel is not only evil are the ones living in a bubble.

  4. Not to mention Israel hosts the biggest gay parade in the world annually in Tel Aviv and Israel is more liberal towards gays than most of the states in West Europe. He was deported from Israel as a result of taking part in illegal protests in East Jerusalem and organizing an attack on an Israeli lecturer at Queens University in Belfast. If he says he didn’t – he lies!, you should ask people that were there.

  5. Didn’t want to say I told you so but I told you so.


    Israel has defended its decision to deport a member of the Alliance Party as he attempted to enter the country last week.

    Garry Spedding, 23, was stopped at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on Thursday evening, and claimed that he was told he was being banned from the country for a decade over his pro-Palestinian campaigning on Twitter.

    The former Queen’s University student, who described himself as “an international activist”, said that an Israeli lawyer would be taking the case to court this morning.

    But the Israeli Embassy in London said that Mr Spedding’s claims of a “ten-year ban” were incorrect.

    In a statement, it said: “Mr Spedding’s entry into Israel was denied due to his involvement in organising a violent protest in Queen’s University, Belfast, in which an Israeli representative was attacked, and others were forced to take shelter to prevent being hurt.

    “No country has an obligation to allow foreigners who have been involved in violent activities targeting its nationals to enter its territory.”

    That related to a protest against a talk by Israeli law lecturer Solon Solomon at Queen’s University which was organised by Mr Spedding. The then Queen’s student, who reportedly led the disruption to the lecture by shouting at Mr Solomon, said that an attack on Mr Solomon’s car was not carried out by his associates and that he condemned such violence.

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