The plight of gays in gays in Iraq is something I have written about before (see Iraqi Gay Safe Houses to Close). It seems mainstream media is finally catching on to the extreme danger that LGBT Iraqis face. A great piece from CNN called "Gays in Iraq terrorized by threats, rape, murder" tells the story of gay people living in Iraq:
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 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.'
Kamal was raped repeatedly everyday for 15 days until his family paid the $1,500 ransom for his release. He didn't tell his family about the rape, however, for fear of shaming them with his homosexuality.
While life has always been hard and filled with harassment for LGBT Iraqis, the situation deteriorated after the US invasion and the removal of Saddam Hussein. LGBT Iraqis have increasingly faced violence from Shia death squads, especially since the 2005 fatwa from Iraq's leading Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, which declared that gays and lesbians should be "killed in the worst, most severe way."
According to the CNN report:
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.
While many in the US are crowing about the strides made in Iraq with safety after the so-called "surge", many are ignoring the extreme human rights violations and murders being perpetrated on gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender Iraqis.
There are few options for LGBT Iraqis. While most hope to flee the country, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find asylum in other countries. Many are forced to live in fear or pay bribes to keep their sexuality a secret from family and save them from death and torture at the hands of death squads.
The sad reality of life in Iraq is best expressed by 21 year-old Rami, a friend of Kamal's:
I would rather commit suicide than allow my family to find out I am gay.
(You can read more and see video of the CNN story here)