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Tuesday, June 06, 2006
Queer Iraqis are finding life is now worse than it was under Saddam
Ali Hili of Iraqi LGBT and OutRage! reveals the systematic murder of gay people by Shia fundamentalist death squads
Pink Paper – London 1 June 2006
Saddam Hussein was a tyrant. But discrete homosexuality was usually tolerated. Since Saddam’s overthrow, however, Islamist fundamentalists are growing in strength and influence. They want to establish an Iranian-style religious dictatorship. Three leading ayatollahs - Sistani, Baghdadi and Khoei – have recently issued fatwas ordering the execution of gay Iraqis. Their followers in the Badr Islamist militia are now targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people for execution.
The father of 23 year old Baghdad arts student, Karzan, has been told by militias that his son has been sentenced to death for being gay. If his father refuses to hand over Karzan for execution, the militia has threatened to kill the family one by one. This has already happened to Bashar, 34, an actor. Because his parents refuse to reveal his hiding place, the Badr fanatics have murdered of his two family members in retribution.
Nyaz is a 28-year old dentist who lives in Baghdad. She is terrified that her lesbian relationship will be discovered, and that both she and her partner will be killed. They have stopped seeing each other. It is too dangerous. To make matters worse, Nyaz is being forced by the fundamentalist al-Mahdi militia to marry an older, senior Mullah with close ties the militia leader, Muqtada al-Sadr. If she does not agree to the marriage, or tries to run away, Nyaz and her family will be targeted for ‘honour killing.’
Gay Iraqis cannot seek the protection of the police. The security forces have been infiltrated by fundamentalist militants. Fourteen year old Ahmed Khalil was accused of corrupting the community because he had sex with men. According to his Baghdad neighbour, in April four men in police uniforms arrived at Ahmed’s house in a four-wheel-drive police pick-up truck. They wore the distinctive face masks of the Badr militia. The neighbour saw the police drag Ahmed out of the house and shoot him at point-blank range, pumping two bullets into his head and several more bullets into the rest of his body.
In the chaos and lawlessness of post-war Iraq, hundreds of young boys are being blackmailed into the sex industry. The sex ring operators lure the boys into having gay sex, photograph them and then threaten to publish their photos unless they work as male prostitutes. If their gayness was publicly revealed, the boys would be executed by death squads. They are trapped.
Wathiq, aged 29, a gay architect, was kidnapped in Baghdad in March. Soon afterwards, the Badr militia sent his parents death threats, accusing them of allowing their son to lead a gay life and demanding a £11,000 ransom. The parents paid the money, thinking it would save Wathiq’s life. But he was found dead a few days later, with his body mutilated and his head cut off.
Despite the great danger involved, Iraqi LGBT has established a clandestine network of gay activists inside Iraq’s major cities, including Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala, Hilla and Basra. These activists are helping gay people on the run from fundamentalist death squads; hiding them in safe houses in Baghdad, and helping them escape to Syria and Lebanon. For gay Iraqis, gay rights is literally a life and death issue. We need your help.
* Iraqi LGBT is appealing for funds to help the work of our members in Iraq. We don’t yet have a bank account. OutRage! is helping us. Cheques should be made payable to “OutRage!”, with a cover note marked “For Iraqi LGBT”, and sent to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT, England, UK.
More info on Iraqi LGBT: http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/
Posted by IRAQI LGBT at 5:58 AM