Openly gay member of Congress Jared Polis, who represents Colorado’s 2nd District, visited Iraq this week to investigate Iraq’s treatment of its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens since the regime change in 2003 following sketchy reports of what some are calling “gay-cleansing” surfaced earlier this month.
Last week we reported on information that 6 men had been found dead in a Sadr city slum, all marred by signs reading “pervert” in Arabic, all killed because they were gay. This week, Rep. Jared Polis took a Congressional visit to Iraq where he had dinner with troops serving in the region, as well as taking the time to talk to human rights organizations and the officials currently controlling Iraq.
During his dinner meeting, Rep. Jared Polis discussed a diverse number of topics, including issues facing the soldiers on a day-to-day basis, as well as more far reaching subjects such as veteran services and what the soldiers will do when they retire. Polis’ editorial on his tour even mentions that he discussed the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy with the soldiers and makes reference to the fact that every single one of them thought the policy, which bans LGBTs from serving openly in the military, was a negative one that only served to weaken the military. They stressed that there was a “need [for] quality men and women” in the military, irrespective of a potential candidate’s sexuality.
During his tour in Iraq, the Examiner reports that Polis is also liaising with human rights groups about human rights violations that have recently been reported, such as the unconfirmed discovery of a shallow mass-grave of 25 gay Iraqis, and further cases including the death of two more men on April 4th who, again, unconfirmed but startling reports suggest were killed by a faction of the Iraqi military who, in turn, are blaming the killings on the families of the men, because, they say, they were so ashamed at a member of their family being gay.
The Denverpost also reports that Polis was given a letter that was allegedly written by a man who had been incarcerated and severely beaten until he confessed to being a member of the UK based LGBT rights group Iraqi-LGBT. The man, the letter went on to allege, had been sentenced to death by the Karkh court.
The human rights group responsible for giving Polis the letter said that the man was later executed, although no official record of this has been forthcoming at this time.
“Is there anyone to help me before it is too late?” Was the last desperate plea of the man. His name was concealed, they said, so as to protect his family.
Polis presented pieces of the evidence he had gathered during his investigation to the human-rights committee of the Iraqi parliament.
“We will see whether the Iraqi government is serious about protecting the human rights of all Iraqis, and we can also see what role our own State Department can play in helping to protect this minority in Iraq,” said Polis of his congressional visit to Iraq.
Polis also added that, in spite of official protests in Washington, involvement of the Iraqi government in the killing of homosexuals could not be ruled out and that the charge d’affaires in Baghdad was currently sifting through documentation and case testimony on the accusations of violence and executions perpetrated against Iraqi LGBTs.
No doubt this isn’t the last we’ll hear of this unfolding and very serious situation for LGBT Iraqis. To further highlight this issue to the American government, consider signing this Care2 petition and help the plight of LGBT citizens in Iraq be recognized.