Iraq LGBT Crisis Update: Profiling the Worsening Situation

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

Photo used under Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to @No5.


Maureen Goldman
Maureen G8 years ago

I wholeheartedly concur with Carol H. I voted for Obama & am extremely disappointed he turned his back on the LGBT community. This is so clearly a civil rights matter - I fail to see why he caved. I hope he'll act later but again, BIG FAIL. I'd be shocked if he stepped up to the plate to help Iraqi LGBT's. Sadly Thomas Andrew may be right too...his doing so might create a backlash but I'm sure that closing our eyes to atrocities will not make them go away. I just don't understand where all this hate comes from or why people feel so threatened. One thing is certain - all of us need to keep on top of this. And those of us old fogey hetero's (I'm 57 and married to an opposite sex partner for 25 years) in "mainstream U.S.A." need to stand up with our LGBT brothers and sisters and put the lie to the 'fact' that all middle America fears or dislikes gays. We need to keep demanding change and remain ever vigilante against horrors such as those described above. Yes, I'm signing the petition.

Alice B.
Alice B8 years ago

We LGBTs are such a convenient target for demagogues and violent bigots to use - especially as opportunistic 'distraction' targets when living has become truly rotten already within the entire society. The Nazis so chillingly and effectively provided 'minority' targets for the hatred of the most alienated, violence-prone members of society, within a country that was reeling from the horror and humiliation of World War I. Now the horror and humiliation of USA/UK/'coation'[sic] OCCUPATION AND TERRORIZATION of Iraq is an exact parallel to Germany post-WWI, and to the rise of the Third Reich. And the USA's continuous GENOCIDE against Indigenous/sovereign First Nations here, added to the USA's imperialist and brutal repression of other countries throughout the entire world, makes the USA a perfect "Overlord" to stand by and also allow for 'distraction targets' both here at home and in Iraq. And with the supreme irony of "Don't Ask Don't Tell" and its attendant hateful bigoted discriminatory disciplinary discharges of LGBTs from the USA's own military, the circle of opportunistic targeting of LGBTs by the USA/militari and its collaborators within the Iraqi "government" [sic] is complete.

Taz D.
Taz D8 years ago

the invading occupiers from the west have been anything but 'liberators.' a brutal thug named saddam hussein was hired by CIA in 1959 to carry out assassinations. by 1965, CIA and state department were gradually ushering husssein into power to replace america's previous puppet who was flirting with russia over oil concessions. the usa trained his goons, armed him to the hilt, backed him in the iran-iraq war and extermination of kurds/shiites. then, abruptly, in 1990, with the soviet union broken, the US needed a new enemy and hussein was convenient. that was 2 million american-made deaths ago.

bad as hussein was, life under his rule was better than what has come since. for the 2nd time, the 'allies' committed the war crime of destroying infrastruture such as water/sanitation and electricity supply, hospitals. but also, the fundamentalist forces have been set loose to apply biblical and quranic tyranny to women, gays, artist, the dissidents.

the idea that the US government or the new war criminal president, obamabush, can or should do anything more to the people of iraq is ridiculous as it will only lead to further entrenchment. consider how the bible belt would respond to invading moslems asserting moral authority in say, tennessee.

obviously, a global revolution of true liberation for all is needed, including here in america, china, israel, iran, iraq... the whole world. america cannot export freedom and democracy until it has freedom and democracy.

Carol H.
Past Member 8 years ago

Before he helps them he should be helping the people in his own backyard and that is a fact.

Thomas Andrews
Thomas Andrews8 years ago

I have yet to see LGBT's will begin feeling safe receiving any top level commitments from anyone, because the brow beating and where lip service dies somewhere on the road of promises. Top level support will only make them more distinctive as better targets, i.e. the Sudan. Will presidential action on anything bring any fundamental social change? Perhaps just wishful thinking. This article was upsetting.