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    May 28, 2009

    Gays 'honor killings' in occupied Iraq

    Posted by: Chris

    Iraqigaysblog One of the first stories I posted on Gay News Watch, back in February 2007, concerned reports that the Iraqi government was lending its official endorsement to Shiite militias responsible for killing gay men. After two more years of American occupation and a change in U.S. administrations, the story hasn't changed and the horrific killings continue:

    Two gay men were killed in Baghdad's Sadr City slum, and police confirmed they found the bodies of four more men, all killed during a 10-day period after an unknown Shiite militia group urged a crackdown on homosexuals in the country.

    The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs believes as many as 30 people have been killed during the last three months because they were -- or were perceived to be -- gay.

    Homosexuality is prohibited almost everywhere in the Middle East, but conditions have become especially dangerous in recent years for gays and lesbians, as religious militias have become more powerful since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

    But an Iraqi military source claimed the recent killings were linked to tribal violence, not militias, and his characterization of the killings hints at how deep homophobia runs in Iraqi society.

    "Two young men were killed Thursday. They were sexual deviants. Their tribes killed them to restore their family honor," an Iraqi army member who did not want to give his name told ABC News.

    The army source said the bodies of four gay men were unearthed in Sadr City March 25, each bearing signs reading "pervert" in Arabic on their chests. All the bodies found bore signs of torture and were found fixed to poles when they were killed. The Iraqi army source also said two of the men found dead were wearing diapers and women's lingerie.

    Two gay men were found elsewhere in Sadr City, alive but bearing the scars of severe torture. They were beaten, their chests showed signs of cigarette burns, and when police found them they were rushed to the hospital. They had been sodomized with iron bars, sources said. Other men said they had had their chests slashed and their nipples cut off.

    The Bush and Obama administrations have been justifiably proud about the improved status, safety and opportunity for women as a result of the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. But where is the concerted action to put an end to these unspeakable acts of violence?



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    1. susanj on May 28, 2009 10:31:44 PM:

      I have to take issue with you on your last statement, Chris. I think all the evidence is that things have become much worse for women in Iraq since the U.S invasion. In fact, I have read that educated and professional women have fled the country in droves. As for Afghanistan well, you can't get worse than the Taliban, I guess. But just today I was reading about great areas of Afghanistan where the Taliban is still chasing girls out of schools under threat of death, and I'm sure you've read about the recent acid attacks on schoolgirls there.

      As for the situation for gays it is, of course, tragic in the extreme. But I don't know that women have it that much better.

    1. mademark on May 29, 2009 4:26:34 PM:

      I'd have to second that comment. "Justifiably proud" would require justification, and there is none. A secular Iraq under Hussein was absolutely enlightened by comparison for both women and gay people. With theocracy (for that's what it amounts to, Sharia law and whatnot), women have been ground down, and gays have been slaughtered. There is nothing for either Bush or Obama to be proud about the state of women's lives over there.

    1. Hawyer on May 31, 2009 10:52:15 AM:

      You know - I thought we were supposed to be getting out of Iraq. In that I can't even keep up with the insults and assaults on gays in this country, under cover of political sanction, I damn can't take on the entire Muslim world with its cryptofascist view of society.

      At least if Obama would stick to his campaign promise of exiting that godawful hell hole, we could wash our collective hands of George Bush's adventurism and let Iraqis get on with Iraq - like a self-cleaning oven.

      Instead we get another stint of Bob Gates and business as usual. Now that's change you can count on.

    1. Robert Kelly on Jun 3, 2009 2:59:06 AM:

      I want to address the two previous comments in order.

      I would be very careful to apply to Saddam-era Iraq the label of secular enlightenment. It was a fascist regime. Regarding gays specifically, it doesn't sound unreasonable that they (we) were able to carve out a comfortable place. But it was hardly Venice Beach. Gays were still in the closet, in a cage, though the cage was gilded.

      This is not unbelievable. Throughout history there has been a connection between homosexuality and authoritarianism. Johann Hari explored this link as did Christopher Hitchens way back in 1985. "Before Yukio Mishima committed ritual suicide after failing to restore fascism in Japan, he wrote in Forbidden Colors that the homosexual should always hate democracy. He argued that gays should identify with the right because they had everything to lose by majority rule. This was also a big theme in the early stirrings of the gay right in Nazi Germany."

      It sounds like Iraq was in a similar place. Gays were afforded a relative degree of safety, but ultimately what made it possible was the end of liberty. Iraq is now a democracy -- a blasted, militarized and deeply dysfunctional democracy, but a democracy nonetheless. One consequence has been the unleashing of demons the more secular types either didn't expect, or couldn't control.

      Crain is absolutely right to call out the Bush and Obama administrations for the lack of action to protect gays. What the commenter Hawyer suggests, however, is that we simply abandon Iraq (and Iraqi gays to their persecutors) and let it go to the dogs. This is a reactionary, provincial and contemptible view. That "the entire Muslim world" is "cryptofascist" is plain ignorant. The gays being put to death, and their allies pleading for assistance to get the vulnerable into safe houses are Muslim themselves! As are our other allies in the country! If you want to do something constructive to help Iraqi gays, then engagement and action is what's needed, not abandonment.

      The absence of left-wing groups in this struggle is an embarrassment. All I'm hearing is the view of the modern day America First, that Iraq should go back to a Saddam-style cult of personality and dictatorship (for the gays, after all), that we should "wash our collective hands" instead of actually doing something to improve the lives of people... now that we have an opportunity to do so! This is absurd. So for now, anyone who is willing to help should check out visit Iraqi LGBT. Peace.

    1. paul canning on Jun 4, 2009 9:11:28 PM:

      See this press statement by Iraqi LGBT

      Iraqi gays condemn Obama/Clinton inaction on pogrom
      Embassy statement 'offensive and insulting'


    1. Ahmed on Jan 15, 2010 1:17:16 PM:

      Dear Sirs,
      I know what am writing now is not a comment, but i really need youe help to migrate from iraq because am gay. The cost of my living in iraq is my life because its so danagerous for me. Please i need your help. All i need is an organization help that can adopt my problem. This is my mail if you need any information i will send it to you.
      Best Regards

    1. cheap ugg boots on Nov 21, 2010 9:30:03 PM:

      Dude, lighten up. She's out and everyone knows it.

    1. Renova on Sep 28, 2011 7:17:00 AM:

      hmmm.. sad situation, but it is something that may increase fundamentalism in that region. It has to be handled very very delicately!!

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