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The Plight of Gay Iraqis

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by Brian Leubitz

Yesterday I wrote about the LGBT community in India, and while times aren’t always easy there, they do have it better off than our community in Iraq. With the government still being quite weak, providing protection for minorities isn’t really high up on their list of goals. While times in Iraq are generally quite tough, being gay can be even more dangerous. Last year, US officials acknowledge several murders and other acts of violence:

“In general, we absolutely condemn acts of violence and human rights violations committed against individuals in Iraq because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said.

“This is an issue that we’ve been following very closely since we have been made aware of these allegations, and we are aware of the allegations,” Kelly told reporters when asked about anti-gay violence in Iraq. (Times of India)

Unfortunately, the United States has been extremely slow to accept Iraqi refugees, even those at extreme risk of violence. Meanwhile, Europe has picked up much of that slack. Sweden now has a burgeoning Iraqi population; they deserve a lot of respect and credit for welcoming so many refugees. Of course, there are always problems associated with taking in refugees, and Sweden and the rest of Europe is no exception. A recent Amnesty International report argues that the immigration officials have been particularly harsh towards our community:

According to the report, women, ethnic minorities and gays, or those perceived to be gay, are most likely to be at risk of violence and persecution in the country. More than 100 civilians died in the first week of April. Amnesty accused the UK, along with several other countries, of forcibly returning “scores” of Iraqis to dangerous areas in the country, breaking international rules.

The report said: “Despite the ongoing violence in Iraq, several European governments continue to forcibly return rejected Iraqi asylum-seekers to Iraq. In 2009, the authorities in Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK forcibly returned scores of Iraqis to unsafe parts of Iraq, such as central Iraq, in breach of UNHCR guidelines.”

It recommended that all forcible returns should cease and resume only when the security situation in the country has stabilised. (UK PinkNews)

With a lack of stability, minorities are always at risk. Life was no picnic under Saddam Hussein, to be sure, but the turbulence has been particularly hard on gays and lesbians in Iraq. Governments everywhere (especially the United States) should be doing all that they can to protect all minorities in Iraq, but also welcoming them under international asylum laws. It is our moral duty to the Iraqi people.

43 Comments

  • 1. Will Fisher  |  April 27, 2010 at 2:12 am

    The post-Saddam era has been tough on Iraq's Christian minority as well. I sense some common ground between LGBT groups and Christian (the Jim Wallis kind, not the NoM kind) or at least an opportunity for dialogue and understanding.

  • 2. Bill  |  April 27, 2010 at 2:24 am

    I can only wonder how quickly the United States might act if Christians were being executed instead of gays.

    But honestly, I already know the answer to that question.

  • 3. Ronnie  |  April 27, 2010 at 2:26 am

    Turkey is accepting LGB refugees as well….<3…Ronnie

  • 4. Carvel  |  April 27, 2010 at 2:28 am

    The plight of any member of the LGBT community is in danger in most of the world. Sometimes even here in the USA. Certainly, the LGBT community is in great danger in Muslum countries. I think it was the leader of one such country that stated that they had no homosexuals in their country. I think that he needed to revise that statement to state they had no live ones. They either left the country when they could or they were killed or are so far in the closet that they even look at straight images to masturbate. Of course porn is not available over there in many muslum countries.

    I am not in favor of war. However, if we go to war then why in the hell did we let them set up another theocracy controlled by the religious extremists. Even their moderats seem extreme over here. I think it was Patton who said that we should have wiped out the Russians in World War II. I did not agree with him, but he had a point and we fought a cold war for many years and grew up under the threat of war for several generations.

    It is the responsibility of governments to government the people and to keep them safe. It is not the function of government to impost religious laws upon the country or the people. Even the educated people over here do not or will not see that. They want to impose their religion on this country just as the Muslums have imposed it in the mideastern countries. But what happens here when we pass the universal enforcement of religious laws here. Are we to execute people who work on the Sabbath, are divorced or commit adultery. Shall we forbid the raising and eating of porkl, ham, shell fish, rabbits, the wearing of wool and cotton at the same time. The problem is that the religions pick and choose what parts they want to enforce and follow just to control their neighbor.

    Freedom of religion is not only freedom to practice your feligion but the freedom to be free from your neighbor's religion and his religious practices. We need to send all the female senators over to Iran and learn the place of women in their society and then send all the other people who don't fit in that oppose freedom over here. They would quickly change their minds about freedom. We do not appreciate what we have and the long history of mankind has taught us that we must be every wary of those who would enslave us in the name of freedom.

    I would rather loosen up the travel screedings so that we have more freedoms and we lose a few planes than to subject us to this silly stuff that only gives us the illusion of being really safe.

    The Iraqi people have no moral duty except to survive. It is the government of the people who have abdocated their moral duty. the governments of the world should unite to stop them, but politics as usual is that nobody is willing to put their country and political life on the line for a bunch of queers. I am sorry, but it is unfortunately the truth. No even the UN is willing to step in to protect a people that most people don't care about.

  • 5. Ronnie  |  April 27, 2010 at 2:28 am

    There answer to that would be…"It'll never happen"…..ignorance is bliss….<3…Ronnie

  • 6. Ronnie  |  April 27, 2010 at 2:46 am

    subscribe?!!!

  • 7. Bill  |  April 27, 2010 at 3:29 am

    Religion ruins people.

    ALL people who participate in it.

    NO exceptions.

    Take the Catholics, for example.

    Heterosexual Catholics are willing to look the other way while 'men of god' rape their children. By the thousands.

    Yet, if it were discovered that the public school that their children attend was run by a bunch of child rapists, they would demand the school be shut down.

    So what is the difference there?

    That is why I say that religion ruins people, WITHOUT exception.

    For what other kind of organization has such a hold on people that they would look the other way while that organization's leaders rape children?

    What kind of a human being REMAINS a part of an organization directly responsible for the rape of thousands of their children????

    Many heterosexuals like to use a weapon against gay men. That weapon is an organization called NAMBLA. Which, for those who do not know, is a group of gay men that advocate for sex with underage boys. Disgusting. Illegal. All those things, yes.

    However, the only difference I see between NAMBLA and the Catholic Church is that al least NAMBLA is HONEST with their intentions.

    The Catholic Church simply dupes people into paying a weekly 'stupid tax' that is dropped into a collection plate so that a bunch of fancily-robed child rapists can continue building their city of solid gold in Rome.

    At this point in time, any person who would call themselves a Catholic is complicit in this abuse. Because we KNOW ABOUT IT. And now that we KNOW about it, continuing to be a part of that organization MAKES YOU AN ACCOMPLICE.

    If you doubt that, replace ALL instances of 'Catholic' in this comment with 'Microsoft,' then ask yourself if society would tolerate Microsoft employees setting up different offices all over the world and committing the unspeakable acts of the Catholic church.

    Until religion dies, innocent people will continue to lose their lives and suffer abuse in order for unenlightened people to continue to continue to believe the stagnant, immorality of their religion.

    Religion. Ruins. People.

  • 8. Mike  |  April 27, 2010 at 4:06 am

    The Answer to that question is found in the fact that the United American Families Act has not been voted for TEN YEARS !!!

    The USA immigration policies are homophobic and in a cruel way !

    50,000+ bi-national couples are forced to live apart, in exile or in fear.

    And do you honestly think that our Goverment is going to care about a few thousands "Iraqui homos"…..yeah right ?!

  • 9. Dan Hess  |  April 27, 2010 at 5:58 am

    'Scuse me, Bill? I'm not a Christian, but I am a member of a religion. A priest, in fact, and I've been vocally opposed to anti-homosexual extremism and have repeatedly offered to perform marriage ceremonies for gay couples in Maryland the SECOND it's legal for me to do so. I don't ask for donations and I CERTAINLY don't rape children or condone anyone doing the same. I hope that my services have not "ruined" those who seek them, and I hope YOU will learn not to alienate the people who are actively trying to help you.

    Or you could at least stop being an asshole. That'd be nice too.

  • 10. Monty  |  April 27, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Agreed. While I oppose religion as an institution and agree with Bill that we'd be better off without it, I also recognize that a lot of religious people lead perfectly moral lives, whether because of or in spite of their beliefs. Blaming the people for the faults of the system, or of other people in the system, does no good.

  • 11. .Bob  |  April 27, 2010 at 7:23 am

    The topic of the day is the plight of gay Iraqis, and their lives being threatened by religion (Muslim) but how quickly that conversation morphs into our own realization of how our western religion also is a threat to our own lives, right here and now.

    First off, I want to mention the UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, and how it operates to save lives, those not directly involved can make donations, I'm thinking here of the post from the other day of the person who felt safer in the closet, cause even from the closet you can make a donation, every little bit helps.

    As for our own religious persecution, we need to fight that battle square on, separation of church and state, could be a rallying cry that would join many, including scientists and historians.

    The Catholic Church is the main target because of their major influence, and their tactics for enlisting any religion (mormons) to do the dirty work. They also are leading the war against the eastern religions, mainly Muslim, so much of the war effort is driven by the POPE. to protect us from the Muslim influence. and preserve his postition of authority. His religion run by male authority is challenged today, by a group of Woman priests who are ready able and willing to fill the vacancies in parishes, we could demand that every convicted pedophile be replaced with a woman priest for starters.

    I agree fully with Dan Hess, that not all religious people are against us, and if we look closer their is a modern day reformation taking place in the major religions, we have to educate ourselves about this, I am always amazied at people who have managed to be raised without the trauma of religious influence and consider them lucky. But I also feel, those people could learn some things from people like Dan.

    WE willl never be without religion, and I will mention again, my experience of finding that inside every religion is a core group of people asking questions and seeking change, it's these people we need to align ourselves with. AS well as seeking services from new religions who are on our side.

    The gay issue is a driving force in every main stream religion forcing dialog, breaking up churches , we have a hudge roll to play in this modern day reformation, and because of us, the transformation of religion will benefit all.

  • 12. Kathleen  |  April 27, 2010 at 7:38 am

    UPDATE: ACLU/EQCA have filed their written response to the April 25 Order. From their response:

    EQCA and ACLU are, today, sending by Federal Express to Proponents and plaintiffs all documents responsive to this Court’s orders of March 5, 2010 (Document # 610) and March 22, 2010 (Document # 623). As a result, EQCA and ACLU are in compliance with this Court’s above-referenced orders and the Order to Show Cause should, for that reason, be discharged.

    The filing available here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/30590872/Doc-649

    It's not entirely clear to me if they are really in compliance or if they are holding back those items they don't believe should be included, and this is just posturing ahead of the contempt hearing. I'll guess we'll find out tomorrow after the hearing.

    I've still not heard from anyone who says they'll be attending tomorrow's hearing. If anyone sees a report on the hearing before I do, please post a link. Thanks!

  • 13. Richard A. Walter (s  |  April 27, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Subscribing

  • 14. Richard A. Walter (s  |  April 27, 2010 at 9:05 am

    That was the Iranian leader, Ahmedinijad who said that. And in another thread someone pointed out that in Iran, gays can either renounce their orientation and enter into a sham marriage, leave the country, or undergo a forced gender reassignment operation. That is why Iran claims not to have any LGB's.

  • 15. Richard A. Walter (s  |  April 27, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Subscribing again, no confirmation email yet.

  • 16. Bill  |  April 27, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Bill stands by every word Bill said.

    ANd when I see ANY religion fighting to unite instead of divide and destroy, I might change my mind.

    If that makes me an asshole, well, then, I am an asshole.

    I would sooner be an asshole than a member of an organization that allows its leaders to rape children while they look they other way.

    But hey, that's just me.

    Indeed, I must admit that being called an asshole by a priest is a special treat that alomst makes me reconsider.

    Almost.

  • 17. Bill  |  April 27, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Really? So, if it were uncovered that Microsoft had raped THOUSANDS of children in their offices over countless decades, you would not feel anything about those who chose to remain it it's employ?

    Or to buy Micorosoft products?

    Really?

    Well then, perhaps the priest is right and I am in fact, just an asshole.

    Cuz I believed them when they ran around screaming their heads off about 'protecting the children.'

    Gays have heard that children need 'protecting' from gay citizens all our lives. Which has been proven false time and again. Yet when it is 'men of god' raping children, Catholics do not demand that the leaders of their organization be REMOVED from their positions of power.

    To me, that makes those people as responsible. Once your eyes have been opened to a felony, you become a part of it when you look the other way becasue it challenges your faith. That measn you, Dan Hess, as well. You think God gives you a pass on this becasue you of other 'services' you have provided?

    Dan Hess' post and your follow up just demonstrate my point. And as for Dan's comment about 'alienating the pepople trying to help you…'

    Ruined.

  • 18. Andrea  |  April 27, 2010 at 10:28 am

    There, that wasn't so hard, was it?

  • 19. Dan Hess  |  April 27, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Did I not just say I was not a Christian? I left Christianity when I was twelve because I couldn't stand most Christians. I am a member of a religion that has been nothing but open and accepting, and believe me when I say pedophilia is not a factor and would be dealt with harshly if found. My gods would condemn it every bit as strictly as I do.

    Now, as far as our positions themselves go, we are not interested in converts. We do not care what other religions think of ours, nor are we interested in being pitted against them. We know we're right, whether other religions are also correct is their issue. We have only one law, because it applies to everyone regardless of beliefs: everyone has unlimited rights except where their actions infringe on the rights of others. All people believe in this truth because if they didn't then they are saying that they have no rights. To life, happiness, what have you.

    We would not look the other way if a rape occurred, just as we do not look the other way when our fellow people are being oppressed by extremists. Though you probably wouldn't recognize us, we've been advocates for equal rights and religious freedom since the beginning and will continue to be. No group has the right to take away the rights of others. If 98% of the nation voted to take away the rights of one single person, we'd be there fighting, like we are today.

    And to have anyone compare me or the people who follow me to the sort of evil subhumans that would rape a child or oppress minorities simply because they can is simply unforgivable. We teach that extremists are in the same category as rapists and murderers, but I'm thinking that you're not a whole lot better. I'm every bit as angry as you are over this violation of your fundamental rights, but to lump all religions, or even all Christians, in with those who have committed or condoned such evil is not even close to justifiable.

  • 20. Kathleen  |  April 27, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Andrea, are you on facebook?

  • 21. Monty  |  April 28, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Religion is a complex thing. The vast majority of religious people grew up with that religion, having its influence in every aspect of their life from day one. Those beliefs do not change easily. Also, there is an interesting essay here about how religion has "evolved" various ways to maintain its existence. Few, if any, other things in society have such intricate defense mechanisms to maintain support.

    So I find it more difficult to fault someone for religious belief than, say, support of a particular company. After all, most companies don't threaten you with eternal torture if you don't buy their product.

  • 22. fiona64  |  April 28, 2010 at 1:27 am

    In other news: yet another lesbian teen in MIssisippi is mistreated by her high school. In this case, Ceara Sturgis was erased from the yearbook. No yearbook picture, no listing under graduating seniors … nothing.
    http://www.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2010/04/

    This young lady has attended the private school for her entire academic life and is an honor student.

    Love,
    Fiona

  • 23. Ronnie  |  April 28, 2010 at 1:50 am

    Oh Finoa…I heard about that…He mother is pissed….<3…Ronnie

  • 24. draNgNon  |  April 28, 2010 at 1:54 am

    Check out this film coming out
    http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/independent/8t

  • 25. Monty  |  April 28, 2010 at 1:57 am

    Wow. Just…wow. I honestly don't know what to say about that.

  • 26. Ronnie  |  April 28, 2010 at 2:11 am

    i meant Her mother is pissed….I have not had my coffee yet…<3…Ronnie

  • 27. Dan Hess  |  April 28, 2010 at 2:18 am

    I've called the school and they claim she actually IS in the yearbook–their secretary claims she'll personally point out the page to me tomorrow; we'll see how THAT goes. XD

  • 28. Dan Hess  |  April 28, 2010 at 2:27 am

    Most RELIGIONS don't threaten you with eternal torture if you don't subscribe to their belief system. Mostly that's just the Abrahamic faiths. Personally, I don't even allow children at my services and discourage parents from doing much more than talking about religion to their children. Trying to force your view of the world onto somebody else, particularly someone too young to make their own judgments, is pretty fucked up.

    I'm sure Bill won't understand this, and I'm equally sure that he won't apologize for his hateful statements or base ignorance. I won't, however, allow one person's comparison of me to a child molester (for no other reason than that I subscribe to a belief system he probably doesn't know exists) stop me from fighting for equal rights for everyone. Including Bill. Even if he's a massive cunt.

  • 29. Monty  |  April 28, 2010 at 2:38 am

    Well, since Christianity and Islam combined are more than half the religious population of the world, saying "most religions" is a bit misleading in that context. Likewise, since those seem to be the two with the most problems, they're the ones I focus on most (Christianity more so, because of its dominance in the US) when I debate religion. I've never seen any significant problems with non-Abrahamic religions, except for Scientology (if that even counts).

  • 30. Andrea  |  April 28, 2010 at 2:38 am

    No facebook. On the lam from a violently hostile family-of-origin. Until the marriage thing is settled so I can break the next-of-kin bond to them, I can't make it that easy for them to keep tabs on me.

    I might start a blog, if there's a place to publish that doesn't automatically claim perpetual ownership of my work just for putting it there.

  • 31. Richard A. Walter (s  |  April 28, 2010 at 2:47 am

    And her mother has every right to be pissed. But then again, as Wanda Sykes said, leave it to Mississippi to be at the forefront of doing the wrong thing.

  • 32. Dan Hess  |  April 28, 2010 at 2:49 am

    I was talking more along the lines of number of religions, not number of followers. There are only 7 Abrahamic faiths at most (and that's counting the obscure ones like Baha'i), compared to hundreds of currently-practiced world religions, so my statement "most religions don't…" holds. And no, Scientology is an inexplicably tax-exempt business, not a religion.

  • 33. Richard A. Walter (s  |  April 28, 2010 at 2:52 am

    Andrea, I have a blog on WordPress, and if I read the terms correctly, I maintain the copyright to everything I post on my blog. Not that my life is all that interesting. Just the usual everyday, domestic hassles that we all go through. I really started the blog just to get the word out about what "the gay lifestyle" is really all about.

  • 34. Monty  |  April 28, 2010 at 2:53 am

    I didn't say it was untrue, just that it was misleading. Regardless of the number of religions, the fact is that most people follow faiths with intolerance at their core.

  • 35. Kathleen  |  April 28, 2010 at 3:56 am

    let me know if you do start a blog .. i was just looking for a way to exchange email addys without publishing them here on a public forum.

  • 36. Kathleen  |  April 28, 2010 at 4:15 am

    AFER posted this status on their facebook page about an hour ago, "back in Chief Judge Walker's courtroom today…moving forward!"

    Still haven't found anywhere the hearing's being reported. Hopefully one of the sites will post once it's over.

    If anyone finds a report on today's hearing anywhere, please let us know!

  • 37. Andrea  |  April 28, 2010 at 4:33 am

    Yes, definitely! They should be able to schedule closing arguments now, or at least re-start the trial phase if Cooper wants to introduce any new evidence from the discovery. Hooray!

    Oh Kathleen, I've got a message in to a friend who does have a facebook account to see if we can use it to ricochet contact information. There probably won't be a response until late tonight though due to work scheduling. Will keep you posted.

  • 38. Richard A. Walter (s  |  April 28, 2010 at 4:41 am

    Adrea, you can ricochet that info through my fb page. I am home right now and will send it to you anytime. You can find me through the P8TT group if you want to make sure you have the right Richard A. Walter.

  • 39. Kathleen  |  April 28, 2010 at 4:46 am

    Paul Hogarth is liveblogging: http://prop8trialtracker.com/2010/04/28/liveblogg

  • 40. Bill  |  April 28, 2010 at 7:12 am

    Wow.

    A priest calling me an asshole, a massive cunt, and fucked up.

    I must have done SOMETHING right.

  • 41. Bill  |  April 28, 2010 at 7:13 am

    I would respectfully ask you, Dan Hess, to disclose your religion.

  • 42. Bob  |  April 28, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Actually, Dan, I too would like to know about your religion, could you tell us a bit about it.

  • 43. paul canning  |  April 28, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    If people want to help please see the Iraqi LGBT website http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/

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