Waymon Hudson

Gay in Iraq: Stories of Terror

Filed By Waymon Hudson | July 25, 2008 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: human rights abuses, Iraq, LGBT, rape

The plight of gays in gays in Iraq is something I have written about before (see Iraqi Gay Safe Houses to Close). art_hands_cnn.jpgIt 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)

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Wow. CNN finally discovers this story. It's a miracle. After all, it's been talked about almost everywhere else now...

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | July 25, 2008 11:16 AM

These murders DID NOT occur under Hussein's regime; they began after the US invasion. They're not based on muslim culture but on the genocidal policies of US military and political leaders who illegally invaded Iraq and are determined to gain hegemony to control the sale of oil. Moreover, all the jihadist gangs who hunt down and kill GLBT folks there are (or have been - its fluid) allied with the US and most importantly armed by the US. The US military turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to the murders and pleas for help.

The Democrats promised to end the war but as usual they were simply lying and trawling for votes. After they got elected they voted FOR war funding and held off impeaching Bush. They also refused to set a date in 2007 or 2008 for total withdrawal.

Now we know why. Obama, who's politics are at least as rightwing as McCain's (NAFTA, socialized medicine, FISA, bribing 'faith' based cults) now vows to to continue the war and it's awful mauling of GIs and mass murder of Iraqis for at least two more years. The wanton murder of our brothers and sisters will continue.

Building the antiwar movement is the best way to help our brothers and sisters in the Middle East. We'll be in Denver and Minneapolis at the conventions of both war parties demanding the immediate and total withdrawal of US forces from the Middle East and cutting the US purse strings that pay for the ethnic cleansing and apartheid practiced against Palestinians. Join us.

McCain is George Bush in drag with the Rev. Pat Robertson attached at the hip.

Obama is Bill Clinton (DOMA, DADT, NAFTA) in drag with the Rev. Donnie McClurkin attached at the hip.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | July 25, 2008 9:25 PM

I do not believe that the United States military will ever control the utterances of an Ayatollya. If we adopted the tactics of Hussein and sent our killers into a mosque to abduct and torture Muslim men of religion we would have silenced them in a similar manner. Of course, there would have been no media reports of what the Muslim religious would have said (or have had done to them) if it did not tow the Bathist line which was: "Sadam is as necessary to us as air itself."

In as much as this is a tragedy with no easy answer, and it is impossible to control all extremists, all we can do is play the "ain't it awful" game. I chose to leave Indiana's backward laws in the early 1970's and once we have a government that will listen in power I would advocate that each and every GLBT man or woman who wants to leave that particular culture should be allowed to do so. That would be one international charity group I would be happy to contribute to.

It is an unfair and corrupt solution to allow this because Gay people have so much to give to culture and community no matter where they live. But we must also ask how many fine people have to become hamburger to prove this point.

Waymon, thank you for the thought you have put into this article. Do you have any solutions better than mine? I don't think we can just try "education" in that nearby Saudi Arabia still has the death penalty for homosexual acts.

You know, Robert, that's the hard part. I don't know what the solution is. With not only the political chaos in Iraq, but also strong cultural and religious issues with LGBT people, there doesn't seem to be an easy way to solve this horrendous violence towards gay people.

I do know that it should be a bigger human rights issue than it is for the US and other countries. Our government ignores the plight of LGBTs in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other countries. I think that there is an ethnic cleansing going on against our brothers and sisters in many countries (hell, it's happening in our country on a smaller scale still). I'm not sure what the solution is, but the more we can bring the stories out into the open, the better.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | July 26, 2008 9:23 AM

The US military brass doesn’t attempt to gag the killer ayatollahs like Al-Sistani. What they do is arm them and make alliances with them from time to time. What the US military leaders also don’t do, because they’re racists and homophobes, is provide protection for GLBT folks, guards for the safe houses, or transportation to safe places. (Actually no Iraqis are safe around the US military and its quisling allies, that’s why over a million are dead.)

Sadam Hussein’s regime, to repeat, did not organize the murder of GLBT folks. That’s the direct result of the US invasion to steal their oil. Hussein did commit many crimes but they’re minor compared to the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children on the orders of Bill Clinton or the subsequent murders of additional hundreds of thousands on the orders of George Bush. The White House and the Pentagon say otherwise but they’re infected with the islamophobic version of racism. (Pssst. A word to the wise. Never believe the US military, the White House or anyone from State, CIA, the FBI or the NSA. They lie. They never stop lying.)

Although we should bend our shoulders to the task of winning asylum that doesn’t help the thousands who are on lists to be hanged or tracked down and shot by Iranian and Iraqi ayatollahs. When the thugs show up you can’t yell “time out – take me to the xyz embassy”. They going to be taken out and killed. Thousands of them.

The only things that will help them are thorough-going anti-American nationalist revolutions and social revolutions that fundamentally reorder their societies. In both countries, and over time, that will result in the expulsion of US forces and interests, a reckoning with the ayatollah (ala the Fidelistas) and the destruction of the power of the rich and their religious toadies. That and that alone will insure the safety of our GLBT brothers and sisters.

I think the ball has been dropped in the quest for rights.We live in a country where others still feel they have the right to hurt us simply because we are lgbt.I know it happened to me yet again this past thursday at the VA of all places.Do we push for the things that create the harder feelings like gay marriage first or do we fight for the more obvious right to simply exist without others harming us simply because we are lgbt.Gay marriage is great but if others can still cause us harm and face no consequence for it what good is marriage?I think first fight for the more important rights like to work without discrimination and to live without violence directed at us.Then fight for marriage and settle for civil unions if that is what it takes.Give it a few years then go for the marriage rights after everyone has a chance to see this country isn't falling apart by recognizing our relationships.If we don't put the government in a position of having to deal with the problem of violence towards lgbt people in America how can we expect them to help others like us in foreign countrys.Amy

Grrrowler | June 12, 2009 4:04 PM

I don't understand the logic of Kamal's kidnappers deciding to rape him repeatedly - a homosexual act in itself - because he is gay. Being gay is bad but having violent sex with a gay man is just punishment for his "crime"? So much for us making things better in the countries we've chosen to invade.