Rep. Jared Polis Tours Iraq With Gay Issues Firmly In Mind

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.

Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to Jeffrey Beall.


Rita Walpole A.
Rita Walpole A6 years ago

Rep. Polis, FYI, it's a BIG mistake for you to in any way encourage enlistment in the U.S. armed forces (sit in a V.A. waiting room and hear the egregious stories of medical/dental etc. non-treatment, poor treatment, etc., then have V.A. medical/dental/parmacy professionals open up to you, time and again, re. "My hands are tied", "This isn't practicing medicine." Here's reality: each and every time a person, regardless of sexual persuasion, enlists, one more slave/enabler of our !% greed and power addicted villainaire rulers occurs.

Time we the sheeple take off the blinders, leave the oh so profitable for the !%ers war, war, war m.o. behind, recognizing war, war, war for the power and greed of the m.i.c. to be the gruesome mistake for the 99% that a Pres. named Ike tried to warn us of as he departed office. One year of war equals ten years of healthcare for all, bringing the U.S. out of being on only country among all the advanced countries in the world to not have such healthcare for all as a human(e) right. And here in Colorado, the state ranking 47th and 48th out of 50 in providing for the developmentally disabled and mentally ill, we especially need to have both federal and state officials who recognize the importance of HEALTHCARE NOT WARFARE!

I applaud you, Rep. Polis, for advocating for justice for all throughout the world. But, please, do not make the error of in any way encouraging enlistment by any person, regardless of the presence or absence of Don't As

Marena Chen
Marena Chen8 years ago

I am amazed that this individual and his like-minded supporters have the audacity to try to interfere in another - in this case an Islamic country's - laws on homosexuality. He keeps this up and he might endanger the lives of US/Coalition forces soldiers who are gay. The Iraqis might go on a witch hunt and kill a bunch of them. After all, who would be surprised - seeing the daily death toll - if a number of gay soldiers, targetted for their sexual orientation were among the dead. Be careful where you tread and whose toes you are treading on. And most important of all - butt out - it's none of your business. Iraq, Iran etc are neither the US nor the West where homosexuality is tolerated. Islam has no tolerance for gays just as they have no regard or respect for women.

Queen B.
Charity B8 years ago

Oh yes, this is just what America needs to bring to Iraq - tolerance for homosexuality. NOT! They beat young Iraqi women to death in the streets for being in the same room with an unrelated male, but Mr. Sodomy here wants to bring acceptance of butt-sex to a people that is savage and crazed in their religious beliefs. Yeah, dude, good luck with that.

Jennifer R.
Jennifer R8 years ago

Thanks for posting this. We all need to remember the atrocities performed in the name of religion.

Alice B.
Alice B8 years ago

p.s. re: my below comment - meant to type "bringing OUT the TRUTH." At any rate, Polis is setting a new standard re: representation and investigation. HE WILL NEED OUR SUPPORT.

Alice B.
Alice B8 years ago

We all must support Polis' efforts - he himself is putting his neck on the line. We LGBTs need to make sure everyone understands what risks Polis is taking to do what he is doing: he is a HERO now, himself, and is devoting himself to bringing the dreadful TRUTH about Iraq's genocide against LGBTs. WAR CRIMES PLUS HATE CRIMES = THE PERFECT "STRAIGHT MARRIAGE" FROM HELL.

Heather H.
Heather H8 years ago

Steve, this is such an important and unreported angle of what's going on in Iraq. Thanks for the article.