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Gays in Iraq 4 September 2006

Posted by Todd in Gay Rights, War & Terrorism.

As the social bonds in Iraq continue to deteriorate and as faction-controled militia have taken over larger swaths of the country, the lives of gay men and women are in more danger than ever. Scores of murders and kidnappings terrorize gay men, who have taken to disguising themselves and running away to protect their families; and gay women are forced into traditional female roles and clothing to save their lives. If the militia and gangs of thugs in the streets don’t summarily execute anyone suspected of being gay (all in the name of God, of course), then they threatend, extort and blackmail the friends and families of gays and lesbians. This is a side of the Iraq war we hear little or nothing about in the United States.

365gay.com reports on a recent article published in the UK weekly Tribune about the current state of life for gay and lesbian Iraqis:

Plight Of Iraqi Gays Worsens
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

September 4, 2006 – 2:00 pm ET

(London) As Iraq continues to spiral closer to all-out civil war the situation for the country’s LGBT community worsens by the day a British gay rights leader said on Monday.

Outrage leader Peter Tatchell, writing in the leftist weekly Tribune, says that information reaching the organization points to a “Talibanisation of Iraq”

Citing sources within the country, Tatchell says that some Baghdad neighborhoods, are now under the de facto control of Taliban-style fundamentalist militias.

“Two militias are doing most of the killing,” he writes. “They are the armed wings of major parties in the [US/UK backed] Iraqi government. Madhi is the militia of Muqtada al-Sadr, and Badr is the militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which is the leading political force in Baghdad’s ruling coalition.”

Tatchell highlights the situations experienced by a number of Baghdad gays. One, Wissam Auda, was a member of Iraq’s Olympic tennis team. Tatchell writes that Wissam “had been receiving death threats from religious fanatics on account of his homosexuality.”

On 25 May, his vehicle was ambushed by fundamentalist militias in the al-Saidiya district of Baghdad. Wissam, together with his coach Hussein Ahmed Rashid and team mate Nasser Ali Hatem, were all summarily executed in the street.”

Tatchell said that Outrage is working with an underground LGBT group in Baghdad and has established “a clandestine network of gay activists inside Iraq’s major cities” to ensure news of the gay community’s situation reaches the West.

In April, IRIN, a United Nations sponsored media group, reported that armed gangs are regularly kidnapping and holding for ransom Iraqis – many of them gay. (story)

Quoting a Baghdad LGBT organization, IRIN reported that that 12 members of the organization had been killed by kidnappers when their ransom demands could not be met. Another 70 had been threatened with kidnapping.

In March, prominent Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for death to gays. (story)

The partner and family of a gay Canadian peace activist who was kidnapped in Iraq kept his sexuality a closely guarded secret until after he was freed in a military raid. (story)

James Loney was kidnapped in Baghdad along with fellow Canadian Harmeet Sooden, Briton Norm Kember and American Tom Fox, whose bullet-ridden body was found last month.

Loney’s sexuality was revealed only on his return to Canada when he was greeted at the airport by partner Dan Hunt.

For more on gay men and women in Muslim countries, see Ahbab News.

*365gay.com is a good source of GLBT news online, despite it’s apparent lack of editors or proofreaders and its refusal to syndicate with an RSS feed of its service.

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