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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Kurdish doctor jailed for writing about homosexual sex in Iraq.





A leading press freedom organisation has called for the release from prison of a doctor sentenced to six months by a Kurdish judge for writing an medical article about sodomy.


Adel Hussein was convicted of offending public decency with his article in newspaper Hawlati and sentenced on November 24th in the city of Arbil, the capital of Kurdish-controlled Iraq.


Reporters Without Borders said:
"Sexual practices are part of the individual freedoms that a democratic state is supposed to promote and protect.


"Furthermore, Hussein did not defend homosexuality. He limited himself to describing a form of behaviour from a scientific viewpoint.

"We are astonished to learn that a press case has been tried under the criminal code.


"What was the point of adopting - and then liberalising - a press code in Iraq north region if people who contribute to the news media are still be tried under more repressive laws?"


RWB said Dr Hussein, a member of the Union of Kurdish Journalists and local TV presenter, was prosecuted as a result of a complaint brought by the city’s public prosecutor over a scientific article published in April 2007 that detailed the physical effects of sodomy.


He was fined 125,000 dinars (£72) in addition to his jail term.


The predominantly Kurdish region of northern Iraq is autonomous and has its own unicameral parliament.


In the rest of Iraq the deteriorating situation for gay and lesbian people has been documented by human rights groups.


A UN report in 2007 highlighted attacks on gays by militants and religious courts, supervised by clerics, where homosexuals allegedly would be 'tried,' 'sentenced' to death and then executed.


"Violence against gays has intensified sharply since late 2005, when Iraq's leading Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa, or religious decree, which declared that gays and lesbians should be 'killed in the worst, most severe way possible," said Alli HIli of Iraqi LGBT.

"Since then, LGBT people have been specifically targeted by the Madhi Army, the militia of fundamentalist Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, as well as by the Badr organisation and other Shia death squads."

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sexual cleansing in Iraq

Islamist death squads are hunting down gay Iraqis and summarily executing them

WATCH the video link below – and weep
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=uB7TcPGXlHY

By Peter Tatchell

The Guardian – 25 September 2008

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/sep/25/iraq.humanrights

STOP PRESS: This morning, after this article was published, news came from Iraq that the coordinator of Iraqi LGBT in Baghdad, Bashar, aged 27, has been assassinated in a barber shop. Militias burst in and sprayed his body with bullets.

The so-called improved security situation in Iraq is not benefiting all Iraqis, especially not gay ones. Islamist death squads are engaged in a homophobic
killing spree, with the active encouragement of leading Muslim clerics, such as Moqtada al-Sadr, as Newsweek recently revealed.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/155656

One of these clerics, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of Shia Islam, issued a fatwa urging the killing of lesbians and gays in the “worst, most severe way possible.”

http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=18202189&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8

The short film, Queer Fear - Gay Life, Gay Death in Iraq, produced by David Grey for Village Film, documents the tragic fates of a several individual gay Iraqis. You can view it here:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=uB7TcPGXlHY

Watch and weep. A truly poignant and moving revelation about the terrorisation and murder of Iraqi lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Since this film was made, the killings have continued and, many say, got worse.

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/07/24/gay.iraqis/index.html

For gay Iraqis there is little evidence of the transition to democracy. They don’t experience any new-found respect human rights. Life for them is even worse than under the tyrant Saddam Hussein.

It is a death sentence in today’s “liberated” Iraq to love a person of the same-sex, or for a woman to have sex outside of marriage, or for a Muslim to give up his / her faith or embrace another religion.

The reality on the ground is that theocracy is taking hold of the country, including in Basra, which was abandoned by the British military. In place of foreign occupation, the city’s inhabitants now endure the terror of fundamentalist militias and death squads. Those who are deemed insufficiently devout and pure are liable to be assassinated.

The death squads of the Badr Brigades and the Madhi Army are
targeting gays and lesbians, according to UN reports, in a systematic campaign of sexual cleansing. They proudly boast of their success, claiming that they have already exterminated all “perverts and sodomites” in many of the major cities.

http://articles.latimes.com/2007/aug/05/world/fg-iraqgay5
http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=17008100&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8
http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=17008200&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8
http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=18605093&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8

You can view photos of a few of the LGBT victims of these summary executions here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157600042494571/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72057594087304767/

My friends in Iraq have relayed to me the tragic story of five gay activists, who belonged to the underground movement gay rights movement, Iraqi LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender).

Eye-witnesses confirm that they saw the men being led out of a house at gun-point by officers in police uniform. Yes, Iraqi police! Nothing has been heard of the five victims since then. In all probability, they have been executed by the police - or by Islamist death squads who have infiltrated the Iraqi police and who are using their uniforms to carry out so-called honour killings of gay people, unchaste women and many others.

The arrested and disappeared men were Amjad 27, Rafid 29, Hassan 24, Ayman 19 and Ali 21. As members of Iraq’s covert gay rights movement, for the previous few months they had been documenting the killing of lesbians and gays, relaying details of the murders to the outside world, and providing safe houses and support to other gay people fleeing the death squads.

Their abduction is just one of many outrages by anti-gay death squads. lslamist killers burst into the home of two lesbians in city of Najaf. They shot them dead, slashed their throats, and also murdered a young child who the women had rescued from the sex trade. The two women, both in their mid-30s, were members of Iraqi LGBT. They were providing a safe house for gay men on the run from death squads. By sheer luck, none of the men who were being given shelter in the house were at home when the assassins struck. They have since fled to Baghdad and are hiding in an Iraqi LGBT safe house there.

Large parts of Iraq are now under the de facto control of the militias and their death squad units. They enforce a harsh interpretation of Sharia law, summarily executing people for what they denounce as “crimes against Islam.” These “crimes” include listening to western pop music, wearing shorts or jeans, drinking alcohol, selling videos, working in a barber’s shop, homosexuality, dancing, having a Sunni name, adultery and, in the case of women, not being veiled or walking in the street unaccompanied by a male relative.

Two militias are doing most of the killing. They are the armed wings of major parties in the Bush and Brown-backed Iraqi government. Madhi is the militia of Muqtada al-Sadr, and Badr is the militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which is the leading political force in Baghdad’s governing coalition. Both militias want to establish an Iranian-style religious dictatorship. The allied occupation of Iraq is bad enough. But if the Madhi or Badr militias gain in influence and strength, as seems likely in the long-term, it could result in a reign of religious terror many times worse.

Saddam Hussein was a bloody tyrant. I campaigned against his blood-stained misrule for nearly 30 years. But while Saddam was President, there was certainly no danger of gay people being assassinated in their homes and in the street by religious fanatics.

http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=17008362&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8

Since his overthrow, the violent persecution of lesbians and gays is much worse.
http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/2007/08/for-gays-in-iraq-life-of-constant-fear.html

Even children suspected of being gay are abducted and later found shot in the head.
http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=17008362&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8

Lesbian and gay Iraqis cannot seek the protection of the police, since the police are heavily infiltrated by fundamentalists, especially the Badr militia. The death squads can kill with impunity. Pro-fundamentalist ministers in the Iraqi government are turning a blind eye to the killings, and helping to protect the killers. Some “liberation”.
* Iraqi LGBT is appealing for funds to help the work of their members in Iraq. Since they don’t yet have a bank account, they request that 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.
More information on Iraqi LGBT or to make a donation by PayPal

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Do Kill




Nobody wants to talk about gays in Iraq, much less who is killing them.

Lennox Samuels-Newsweek

When militiamen from the Mahdi Army came by the compact, two-story stone home in the Doura neighbourhood of Baghdad, they weren't looking for Sunnis to harass. They were hunting gays. "Bring us your son's cell phone," one ordered the middle-aged man who came to the gate. They wanted to check if his son, Nadir, had been calling foreigners--and in fact he had only hours earlier called this reporter to set up a meeting, and he had repeatedly called a gay nongovernmental organization (NGO) in London. Fortunately, Nadir was ready for them and produced a "clean" phone he keeps for just such a threat. This time they left, but vowed to come back if they found any evidence he was gay--or was talking to undesirable foreigners. Now that Iraq's sectarian war has cooled off, it's open season on homosexuals and others whose lifestyles infuriate religious hardliners.

Sometimes the act of reporting a story is revealing in itself--especially when it proves particularly difficult. This was the case when NEWSWEEK began looking into the problems of Iraq's homosexuals after hearing reports of secret safe houses around Baghdad where many of them were taking refuge from the militias' self-appointed morality police. After weeks of inquiries, NEWSWEEK managed to find Nadir and persuade him to arrange a visit to one of the safe houses he helps run. Instead, the Mahdi militia rousted him the night before. Established in 2004, the militia is the armed wing of the organization led by radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who has been an implacable foe of the Maliki government. Terrified, Nadir contacted people at the London-based gay NGO that finances the safe house, and they instructed him to break off the visit.

That was only one of many problems reporting on gays in Iraq. Iraqi authorities scoffed at the subject--when not scolding a reporter for even asking about it. Some of NEWSWEEK's own local staff were wary of the story. Virtually no government officials would sit for an interview. And the United Nations human-rights office, which has a big presence in Iraq, dodged the subject like a mine field. As with a number of Muslim societies where homosexuality is officially nonexistent but widely practiced, the policy in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's rule was "don't ask, don't tell." But that has changed. Iraqi LGBT, the London NGO that Nadir works for, says more than 430 gay men have been murdered in Iraq since 2003. For the country's beleaguered gays, it's a friendless landscape.

Many officials say they feel that in a country at war, there are more pressing concerns than gay rights. A Ministry of Justice judge rebuked a reporter for wasting time on such an issue, noting that "crimes of sodomy" are "very rare" in society and even rarer in the courts. "Most acts of homosexual people are being done in dark corners and, with corruption and paying bribes, they will be kept there for a long time, for it is not on the top of our priorities list, which is occupied by issues of terror, kidnapping and killing," said the judge, who would not allow his name to be used discussing gays. An adviser to the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said that of all the meetings he has attended, none ever touched on the rights--or even the existence--of homosexual Iraqis.

The only recourse for Iraqi gays seems to come from activists abroad. Iraqi LGBT, which was founded to defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Iraqis, looks after about 40 young men between the ages of 14 and 28 in several Baghdad safe houses. There they are fed, can watch TV, hang out and sleep in cramped quarters, their beds inches apart. They stay away from neighbors and rarely leave their immediate area. "I hope you can see how sensitive and very important the security issue is for the safe houses," said Ali Hili, who fled Iraq and received asylum in Britain.

Hili continues to use a pseudonym to protect himself and insulate relatives still in Iraq. He has not returned home in eight years but does visit Syria and Jordan to raise money and check on an underground railroad that helps spirit some gay men out of Iraq. He says the government tries to monitor the group's activities. Saif, one of the older residents at an Iraqi LGBT house, recalls Saddam's repressive but secular regime wistfully. "Those were the most beautiful days of our lives," he says. "The fall [of Saddam] was the worst thing to happen."

Most people seem to prefer that the subject just go away. A written request for an interview at the Legal Section of the Ministry of Human Rights was greeted with a suggestion to delete the word "gays." A sympathetic senior government official warned that a direct request to talk to a minister about gays could result in a short conversation. "I would ask about women, displaced people, children and others before you get to that," he offered. Officials at the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs and the Human Rights ministry maintain that they do not keep statistics about gays, largely because the number is so small, "barely mentioned in Iraq" according to one of them.

Even relatively liberal people in Iraq seem to have harsh attitudes toward this subject. "These people are not welcome in the society because they are against the social, natural and religious rules," said one well-educated Iraqi who did not want to be identified more closely. A Baghdad executive said religion and tradition have made the overwhelming majority of Iraqis hostile to homosexuals. "Nobody is interested in talking about this at all," he says with a grim chuckle. A handful of gay men told NEWSWEEK harrowing stories about being cast out of their homes or savagely attacked by the storm troopers of virtue: Shia extremists among Badr Corps operatives (many of whom are now in the Iraqi Security Forces) or groups like the Mahdi Army, and sometimes both. But when told of such atrocities one Iraqi acquaintance blamed the victims, calling them "the lowest humans."

Persecution of gays will stop only if Iraqis can abandon centuries-old prejudices. They would have to acknowledge that human rights don't cover only the humans they like. Insisting that gays are just a few undesirable perverts who "should be killed"--as one Iraqi who works in journalism put it--encourages an atmosphere of impunity no matter the offense. Killing gays becomes "honorable." And raping them is OK because it isn't considered a homosexual act--only being penetrated or providing oral sex is.

Ali Hili says the government, security forces, judiciary and religious establishment are complicit in terrorizing gays. Since the late-evening visit by the militiamen, Nadir has moved to another part of Baghdad and stayed away from home. "They said, 'We will get you even if you fly to God'," he says. Changing Iraq's attitudes toward its gay minority may prove even harder than ending the war.

URL: http://www.newsweek.com/id/155656

Friday, July 25, 2008

Gays in Iraq terrorized by threats, rape, murder

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Kamal was just 16 when gunmen snatched him off the streets of Baghdad, stuffed him in the trunk of a car and whisked him away to a house. But the real terror was about to begin.

The men realized he was gay, Kamal said, when he took his shirt off and they saw that his chest was shaved.

"They told me to take off my clothes to rape me or they would kill me immediately. This moment was the worst moment in my life," he said, weeping as he spoke of the 2005 ordeal.

"I was watching them taking off their clothes, preparing to rape me. I did not know what to do, so I started shouting loudly, 'Please do not do that! I will ask my family to give you whatever you want.'

His pleas went unheeded. "The other two kidnappers took off my clothes by force, and, at that time, I saw them as three dirty animals trying to tear my body apart."

He was held for 15 days, released only after his family paid a $1,500 ransom. He was raped every day. Only once, he said, was he allowed to talk to his family during captivity. "I told my family that I was beaten by them, but I did not dare to tell my family that I was raped by them. I could not say it, it's too much shame."

CNN spoke with Kamal, now 18, and his 21-year-old friend Rami about what it's like to be gay in Iraq. Coming out as gay is not easy in any country, but to do so in Iraq could mean a death sentence or torture.

The two men rarely show feelings toward each other in public. They spend a lot of time in Internet cafes in Baghdad, surfing gay chat rooms and seeking contacts with other gay men in Iraq and elsewhere.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the situation for gays and lesbians in Iraq has deteriorated. Ridiculed under Hussein, many now find themselves the targets of violence, according to humanitarian officials.

Lesbians are also victims of harassment and violence, but not nearly as often as gay men.

It's unknown how many homosexuals have been killed by militias in the lawless streets of Iraq's cities, but some Web sites post pictures of Iraqis they say were killed for being gay.

One photo on the Iraqi Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender site shows a group of men standing around three male bodies sprawled on a street, blood pouring from their heads. "Gay Iraqi victims of the police and death squads," the site says.

A U.N. report on human rights in Iraq reinforces the accusations of violence. Although gays are supposed to be protected by law in Iraq, it says, they face extreme brutality.

"Armed Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly hostile toward homosexuals, frequently and openly engaging in violent campaigns against them," the report said, adding that homosexuals have been murdered.

"Militias are reportedly threatening families of men believed to be homosexual, stating that they will begin killing family members unless the men are handed over or killed by the family," it said.

The report was issued at the end of 2006 and is the last U.N. study to touch on the subject.

Human rights experts say homosexuals are targeted for cultural reasons as well.

"Gay men and lesbians in Iraq face a lot of risks right now, because homosexuality is sometimes interpreted by people in Iraq as being a Western import," said Scott Portman with the Heartland Alliance, a group that promotes human rights worldwide. "So they can sometimes be targeted by insurgent groups or militias, in part, because of animosity toward the West and, in part, because homosexuality is not well-accepted in Iraqi society."

He added, "the biggest threats right now are from militia organizations, who will attack and actually sometimes kill gay men and women."

Kamal and Rami say the dangers are all too real in Baghdad -- and they live in secrecy not to shame their families.

"I would rather commit suicide than allow my family to find out I am gay," Rami said.

Kamal said he often pretends to have girlfriends in social settings and tells his friends he's dating girls. "I am also careful with the way I dress -- not to show them that I am gay, especially my family."

What would his family do if they found out?

"They will force me to give it up, and I cannot do that," he said. "The 'normal' people cannot live in Iraq. Imagine how the life is for gays."

Rami added, "I do not know why people hate gays even though so many have this tendency. But still they hate it."

Homosexuality is a touchy subject for many Iraqis. When CNN asked Iraqis in Baghdad how they felt about homosexuals, we found intolerance to be widespread.

One man said he considers gays no different from "criminals and terrorists." Another claimed that homosexuality was "illegal under Islamic law, and [gays] should be punished by law like criminals."

Rami said he once fell in love with a man who was part of the Mehdi Army, a Shiite insurgent group loyal to the radical anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

Their relationship eventually soured.

"One day he told me he would come over to my house and kill me in front of my family," Rami said. "I told him I would come outside and be killed in the street because I do not want my family to find out I am gay."

Both men hope to escape Iraq. They say their ideal destination would be San Francisco, California. For now, both of them keep their feelings secret.

Kamal is still tormented by what happened to him nearly three years ago.


"During my sleep, I only see nightmares, and I start crying. My family thought it was because they were beating me."

He paused. "Only my close friend Rami knows about this secret."

http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/07/24/gay.iraqis/index.html

Also see the Video: http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2008/07/24/pleitgen.iraq.gay.dangers.cnn?iref=videosearch


video

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stop aid to homophobic countries says Tatchell





Tatchell picketed in San Diego on Saturday


Speaking to the crowd at the San Diego Pride Human Rights Vigil on Friday 18 July, veteran human rights campaigner Mr Tatchell called for an end to aid for, "viciously homophobic countries like Jamaica, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Iraq and Nigeria."
"Tyrannies should not be rewarded: No US aid for anti-gay regimes," Mr. Tatchell said.
In 2003 the Bush administration pledged $20 billion for the reconstruction of Iraq, according to Forbes magazine.
The reconstruction of Iraq is the largest rebuilding taken on by the US since the Marshall plan helped to rebuild post WW2 Europe.
Under Saddam Hussein's regime sodomy was criminalised in 2001. However, there were no recorded executions or imprisonments.
It is only in recent years that militias have sought and murdered members of the Iraqi LGBT community.
The US also pledged $15 billion to curb the AIDS epidemic in Nigeria.
Homosexuality is a punishable offence under the strict Sharia law that governs the West African country. Gay men can be handed down a sentence of 14 years imprisonment, or 100 lashes for unmarried men and 1 years imprisonment and death by stoning for married men caught in homosexual acts.
In 2004 US aid to Uganda reached $65 million, of that $56 million was donated as emergency food for Ugandans affected by conflict.
The Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni recently branded homosexuality a "negative foreign culture."
Since President Museveni's time in office began, Uganda's LGBT community has been subject to violent attacks and harassment. Many have fled the country and are now claiming asylum in Europe.
US aid to Pakistan in 2006 reached $2.8 million and was used to support a national health survey to improve health care in country.
In Pakistan having an alternative sexuality to heterosexuality can lead to life imprisonment, and Gay Nigerians face 14 years in prison.
In Jamaica, a recent survey found anti-gay statements made by the Prime Minister Bruce Golding, had boosted his popularity.
70% of the country do not believe in equal rights for the LGBT community.
After Hurricane Ivan devastated the Caribbean Island of Jamaica in 2005, the year before Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, the US donated $18 million in aid to help Jamaica recover.
Mr Tatchell also hit out at homophobia within the United States. He called for a boycott of all Hyatt hotels after owner Douglas Manchester for helping to fund proposition 8, the move to ban same sex marriage in California.
The international hotelier has three hotels in the UK, two of which are in London.
Protesters, including Tatchell, picketed the San Diego Hyatt hotel on Saturday. One protester said Hyatt "put so much money into advertising this hotel in gay magazines, and it's a huge slap in the face."

Friday, January 25, 2008