The Los Angeles Times has shown further evidence that Iraqi gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are under threat, reporting that flyers with threatening messages have been published in Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, and that a collective calling themselves the Platoons of Righteousness have emerged to battle the “immorality” of being gay.
The flyers which have been passed around the poor Shiite slums bore messages of warning to gay and lesbian residents, saying “If you don’t cease your perverted acts, you will get your fair punishment,” whilst, in an even more sinister turn of events, people had written the names of those they suspected of being homosexuals on the flyers. This act and others like it were carried out by the so-called Platoon of Righteousness, which some are suggesting may be a part of the disbanded militia that once controlled the region.
The L.A. Times also reports that, as well as the threatening flyers, messages have been written onto the sides of local buildings which read, “we will get you, puppies,” which is a derogatory epithet used in the Sadr region for gay men. These massages, as well as the flyers, were quickly removed, and although no one is sure as exactly who posted them, or who covered them up, their brief appearance on the streets of Sadr City has left a lasting impression.
We have followed the story of violence against gay Iraqis right from the first murmurs of trouble when the UK group IRAQI-LGBT reported that gay and lesbian Iraqis were being attacked and killed, and even executed for the crime of being a homosexual. In the past two weeks it emerged that a mass grave of six Iraqi men had been uncovered, and that all the bodies had signs reading “puppies” around their necks. Reports also suggest that up to 25 gay and lesbian Iraqis have been killed in the last month for the crime of being gay.
This campaign of violence as many are calling it has not gone unnoticed. Last week we reported that Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colorado), openly gay himself, had toured Iraq and whilst there had handed evidence of the violence and persecution that gays and lesbians in the region are facing to the ruling authorities. An investigation is being carried out.
This isn’t the first time since the regime change of 2003 that gay and lesbian Iraqis have been killed, although it seems that the recent spate of killings and anti-LGBT feeling has demonstrated an intensification of the problem.
This article from the site AlterNet shows that, in 2007, there were UN reports circulating that a large scale “purge” of gays and lesbians in Iraqi society was underway where “religious courts” would try and imprison homosexuals, and although death sentences and executions could not be confirmed, they were suspected.
The AlterNet article also demonstrates that systemic and widespread violence has been occurring against gay and lesbian Iraqis since 2003, and whilst some might argue that Iraq on the whole has been greatly improved by the Western invasion, LGBTs in the region have certainly not faired well, a problem that former President Bush did not care to address in his War on Terror.
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