New Arrests of Gays in Iraq

A report of a fresh raid on a gay party in Northern Iraq has led to concerns that a fresh wave of repression may be happening.

LGBT people in Iraq have been subjected to a violent backlash since 2003. Hundreds are known to have been killed with many thousands seeking sanctuary in neighboring countries, some making their way to the west.

According to Ali Hili, chair of Iraqi LGBT, a London-based human rights group, police recently raided a gay party in Kalar, a small town in Kurdistan, in the north of Iraq, arresting 25 men.

“The men were attending a party at a private house on 15th of September when the police raided the address. After fierce protests against the raid by human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, all but three men have since been released from the city’s Garmyan Prison. Several of those detained claim to have been subject to violent beatings while being held in solitary confinement. The authorities in Kalar refuse to disclose the whereabouts of those still in detention, the conditions in which they are held, or the charges they face.”

The news is particularly concerning as the Kurdish region has been reportedly free of the scale of anti-gay violence, largely from Sunni and Shia militias, in Baghdad and the south of Iraq.

Hili told Michael Luongo of Gay City News

“In the south, there are still quite a few raids we were not able to document, and some we were not able to publicize because of protecting men from their families. We have seen a pattern of monitoring individuals. The government and the militias are now informing family members about behaviour. They are creating a system that has led to the deaths of so many individuals, because families are taking revenge. The militias are taking details like in text or video and sending it to families about their sons and daughters. And these people go crazy and kill their sons and daughters and brothers.”

So-called ‘honor killings’ of women in the Kurdish region are well-documented and it is believed that this also extends to LGBT victims.

“It is going to get worse before it gets good at any point,” Hili said. “We’re watching carefully at how the situation is going to go. I think it is not going to be any worse than what we have seen in the past two to three years. The US invasion brought to the gay community nothing but catastrophe. It was a mistake, it brought fundamentalism and lack of civil society, and then there was the ruling by an Iraqi Shia religious government. They have been put in power because of that big mistake.

“I don’t think the US withdrawal will be better for us in general. Iraq will be another Afghanistan. There is no stability for anyone, and most of all for us, the gay community. I don’t see any future for us.”

In September, a report, released by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) said that attacks on LGBT in Iraq continued in 2010.

Related stories:
Documenting the Lives of Iraq’s Gay Refugees

With One War Ending, The Military Community Remembers

“A Spreading Campaign of Torture and Murder” Against Gay Iraqis

Photo by beancounter


Marilyn L.
Marilyn L5 years ago

No surprise here.

Pamela H.
Pamela H5 years ago

Jackie D are you saying Iraq had a healthy thriving gay community under Hussein?

K s Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Rob and Jay B.
Jay S5 years ago

Siusaidh, you always defend Muslims, as if they are all loving kind people. You fail to acknowledge that Islam is a toxic ideology that opposes everything this site & most here cherish - the human rights of women, children, gays, freedom of speech, conscience, press & religion. Show us an Islamic country that respects, even recognizes, human rights like these? As the OIC (Org of ALL Islamic Countries) stated, they believe in human rights as long as they are in agreement with Sharia Law, & Sharia Law treats women as servants of men, children can be 'married' to old men & used for sex, gay people, people who leave Islam or criticize it & women who marry out of it are all to be killed! Let's hear some condemnation of this sick ideology & compassion for its victims.

Jesus taught the exact opposite of everything Mohammed taught. If his followers do hateful, violent things, they are acting against what he taught. Muslims & Muslim countries who do these things are following the commands of Mohammed. Big difference.

There are good people who are Muslims, but ask the Muslims you know if they reject the killing of gays, apostates, critics of Islam & women who marry non-Muslims. You will find how many of these 'good' Muslims aren't so kind after all. All the Islamists who comment on C2 have been asked that time & time again & none will answer such a simple question. That is your answer for these 'kind' people. Good people wouldn't hesitat

Victoria M.
Past Member 5 years ago

i fear the sane are an endangered species.

Pamela H.
Pamela H5 years ago

Siusaidh C. you say life in Iraq is worse now than it was with the dictator Hussein. I bet the gay community wouldn't agree with you there.

We all think our religion is 'peaceful and loving' because that's what's shoved down our throats in our places of worship, but no religion is or ever was peaceful and loving!

As long as we allow outmoded superstitious religious beliefs to perpetuate there will always be suffering and hatred of 'the other'.

Pamela H.
Pamela H5 years ago

Ok my comment was an over-reaction. I don't really think that, but you can't blame a person for feeling protective of minorities who constantly get picked on by bullies in the name of their sadistic and outmoded religious beliefs.

Siusaidh C.
Susan C5 years ago

I can't say much good about Saddam Hussein (a great US ally in his time, eh), but life in Iraq is now worse than before it was invaded and occupied.

And I am LITERALLY SICK of people promoting hatred in these comments against Muslims. The Muslims I have know - religious or not religious at all - have been great people.

At such time as Christians start living up to their peaceful and loving principles, I suggest they be quiet about the supposed evil of another religion. The more Muslims are killed by The West, the more they will fall for Islamist leaders and lash back at those who have killed their people.

Jackie D.
Jackie D5 years ago

Pamela H. "the whole middle east needs to be 'cooked'?

I do hope you don't mean that the US should nuke the middle east? The US is the only country to have dropped an atom bomb - twice for good measure and for no valid reason other than a testing ground - but I sincerely hope you are not suggesting they drop a third atom bomb? Are you?

Jackie D.
Jackie D5 years ago

Pamela H. "the whole middle east needs to be 'cooked'?

I do hope you don't mean that the US should nuke the middle east? The US is the only country to have dropped an atom bomb - twice for good measure and for no valid reason other than a testing ground - but I sincerely hope you are not suggesting they drop a third atom bomb? Are you?