Thursday, January 10, 2008

Oppression of Iraq’s LGBT population

As stated here before, being gay or lesbian in Iraq can be like carrying around a death sentence that can be imposed at any time by almost anyone. The rise of religious extremists in a region already known for its intolerance of sexual minorities and the widespread violence of the Iraqi civil war have contributed to the “sexual cleansing” of the country as gay and lesbian people are either murdered or flee for their lives. Some of these groups have even resorted to the old police tactic of entrapment.

But it’s not just the freelance enforcers of alleged morality who are harassing and threatening the LGBT population of Iraq – it’s the government. According to 365gay – an online news service covering LGBT issues – even though homosexuality is not illegal in Iraq, police target gays by arresting them on other charges. In consideration of a proposal for amnesty for certain prisoners held in Iraqi jails by the Iraqi government, a government spokesman made clear the release would not include terrorists or “homosexuals.”

This is from 365gay (via Think Pink Radio):
(Baghdad) The Iraq government is considering the release of some 5,000 prisoners but a spokesperson said it would not include terrorists or homosexuals.

The Iraqi government has about 20,000 people in custody, while the U.S. military holds about 25,000.

Homosexuality itself is not illegal in Iraq, but police regularly arrest gays on other charges often trumped up.

The amnesty bill drafted by the Shiite-dominated government falls far short of Sunni demands. About the only thing on which the two sides agree is that imprisoned gays not be freed.

The amnesty would cover less than a quarter of the total number of people held in Iraqi prisons, and none of those held by the American military.

Sunni parliamentarians have criticized the bill for its limited scope. They have argued that most prisoners are charged with terrorist crimes, rendering it ineffective. Some also fear referring the bill to Iraq's gridlocked parliament will actually delay prisoner releases.

The total number of gays being held is not known. And, they may be the lucky ones, according to some LGBT activists.

Death squads imposing strict Islamic law are reportedly responsible for the murders of hundreds of gay men across Iraq.

Last year the leader of an exiled Iraqi LGBT rights group told a London conference on homophobia that that militias blamed for the murders of hundreds of gay men and women are sanctioned by the government and the US-led coalition is doing little to stop the killings. (story)

Ali Hili said that the Badr and Sadr militias - the armed wings of the two main Shia parties that control the government of Iraq - are routinely rounding up men and women, primarily in Baghdad, suspected of being gay. The men and women are never heard from again.

Five members of Hili's own group were taken away in November of 2006. About a dozen members of Rainbow For Life, another Iraqi LGBT group also have been seized and are presumed dead.

Another 70 have been threatened with kidnapping Rainbow For Life has said.

In 2006 the Iraq government strongly criticized a U.N. report on human rights that put its civilian death toll in 2006 at 34,452, saying it is "superficial" because it included people such as homosexuals.

1 comment:

Comrade Kevin said...

The homophobic culture of the Middle East is so deeply woven into the societal fabric of the region that it will be quite some time to come before we see any large scale equality for LGBT Arabs, sadly.