The International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) reports this week that groups of LGBT people are being targeted in Iraq, noting “close to 40 people have been kidnapped, brutally tortured and murdered.”
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has today
received reports from Iraq of a wave of targeted killings of
individuals who are perceived to be gay or lesbian. According to Iraqi
human rights activists, in early February 2012, an unidentified group
posted death threats against “the adulterous individuals” in the
predominantly Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad and Basra. The threats
gave the individuals, whose names and ages were listed, four days to
stop their behavior or else face the wrath of God, and were to be
carried out by the Mujahedin. According to sources inside Iraq, as the
result of this new surge of anti-gay violence close to 40 people have
been kidnapped, brutally tortured and murdered. The Iraqi authorities
have neither responded to this targeted violence nor have they
publicly denounced it. It is widely believed that these atrocities are
being committed by a group of the Shiite militia.
“Today the Government of Iraq represents a fully sovereign and democratic country,” said IGLHRC Executive Director Cary Alan Johnson. ”As such, it must protect all of its citizens including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from hate-filled violence and death at the hands of armed militias. Vigilantes who perpetuate the targeted killing of those perceived to be gay or lesbian must not be tolerated in a new Iraq. We have seen these atrocities before. In 2009 vigilantes murdered hundreds of Iraqi individuals for their perceived orientation. There are no excuses for such heinous human rights violations. We demand that the Iraqi Government put a stop to the wanton persecution and killing of gay people, and that the perpetrators punished.”
IGLHRC’s work in the Middle East and North Africa currently focuses on Iran and Iraq, two countries where sexual minorities confront enormous dangers.
According to the Iranian penal code, homosexual conduct is a crime punishable by death. Although the Iraqi penal code does not prohibit sexual activity between consenting same-sex adults, the chaos caused by ongoing war enables death squads to persecute gay men and lesbians.
The IGLHRC states, “Our staff partners with activists to fight for an end to human rights violations based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in the region. Most of our work on Iran and Iraq has involved emergency responses to arrests and executions, such as when we joined other human rights activists in demanding a halt to the execution of Makvan Mouloodzadeh, an Iranian who was convicted of sodomy allegedly committed at age 13 and sentenced to death by the Iranian judicial system in 2007. We have also contributed to the rentals of safe houses for gay Iraqis who have been persistently persecuted by militias, and have worked with international refugee groups to help Iranian refugees in Turkey.”
Stuart Wilber believes that living life openly as a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender or Allied person is the most powerful kind of activism. Shortly after meeting his partner in Chicago in 1977, he opened a gallery named In a Plain Brown Wrapper, where he exhibited cutting edge work by leading artists; art that dealt with sexuality and gender identification. In the late 1980’s when they moved to San Clemente, CA in Orange County, life as an openly gay couple became a political act. They moved to Seattle 16 years ago and married in Canada a few weeks after British Columbia legalized same-sex marriage. Although legally married in some countries, they are only considered domestic partners in Washington State. Equality continues to elude him.
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