In an extensive piece written by the folks at USA Today, the worsening situation that Iraq’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens face becomes clearer still, with one chilling conclusion being drawn: life seemed better for them under Saddam’s reign than after the nation’s liberation by American and British forces.
The USA Today piece, which can be found here, discusses in detail the situation for Iraqi LGBTs, something that we’ve also covered on the Causes blogs here at Care2. Where as in the past it has been hard to unearth concrete stories, recent investigations by various news agencies, including the BBC have allowed new facts to come to light.
The report details how one man, identifying as gay and transitioning from male to female by use of female hormones, was stopped, ridiculed and groped at a check point in southern Baghdad.
According to Ali Hili, the founder of the London based organization Iraqi-LGBT, which attempts to use financial aid as well as a network of undercover benefactors to get endangered LGBT citizens to safety, says that within weeks, of a video of the incident being widely distributed on personal cell phones, the young man in question was found dead.
The article also reinforces that militias in Iraq are purposefully seeking out LGBTs to assault and degrade them in order to send a clear message to the West against liberation forces. In this way, the already disenfranchised Iraqi LGBT population have become tools of a much greater ideological battle: the resistance of certain extreme groups clinging to power against occupying forces as society threatens to seismically shift around them.
To quote the article and Mithal Al-Alusi, a liberal Sunni legislator:
“The militants ‘want to educate the society to accept killers on the street,’ al-Alusi says in an interview. ‘Why did Hitler start with gays? They are weak. They have no political cover. They have no legal cover.’”
The comparison might be tenuous, but the power of the statement remains true: the resistant factions see homosexuality as symptomatic of the West’s invasion and are using those same homosexuals to send a clear and bloody message.
This is further evidenced in the USA Today article by reports that the Sadr City militias have also begun to target straight men for dressing in a Westernized manor, that is to say being clean shaven and wearing their hair long or sporting “flashy” clothing.
In an article written for the BBC, the chilling case of one man’s partner being stolen away and killed in the middle of the night is recorded:
“It was late one night when four armed men came to take my boyfriend from his parents’ house. They were masked and dressed in black. We found his body the next day dumped in the garbage, his throat cut out, his genitals cut off.”
For a BBC 5 Live radio documentary called “Gay Life After Saddam” (listen here, bottom of the page) the sentiment that under Saddam’s rule gay people were better off seems an indictement of the West’s involvement in Iraq and the consequences of the war in Baghdad.
This, however, may not be the case. It is known that Saddam began a clamp down on minority activity toward the latter stages of his reign, and it has been suggested that today’s violence against Iraq’s LGBTs is a systemic continuation of that process as militants cling to “the old ways”.
As more and more media coverage emerges, from reports by CNN to the BBC, hope is rekindled that the eyes of the global community can turn and see the true horror of what is happening in Iraq where its LGBT population is concerned. They can see, and they can act.
Some blame religious clerics, whilst Ali Hili, as the leader of Iraqi LGBT, blames the Iraq government who he alleges quietly endorses these killings. There is no proof of this, and the finger of blame seems of little use in the deluge of political, social and economic problems that Iraq faces.
With American and European forces still in Iraq there is a chance to bring about change. Sign this ongoing Care2 petition to add your voice to the chorus asking that President Obama acknowledge the terrible events in Iraq and therein urge him to take steps to help improve the situation.
If you would like to do more, head to Iraqi-LGBT where you can find out more about the organization, its background (they have also made available their financial records in the face of some objectors citing that there was no proof money donated was heading to Iraq at all) and how you can get involved in helping Iraqi LGBTs.
Keep Up With Iraqi LGBT Information:
Iraqi LGBT Facebook Page.
Follow Rep. Jared Polis’ attempts at improving the situation in Iraq for LGBT citizens.
Other Care2 Blogs You May Find Interesting:
What Does it Mean to Live in Dignity?
Don’t Just Stop Genocide, Prevent it Before it Starts