Waymon Hudson

U.S. State Department Condemns Anti-Gay Violence in Iraq

Filed By Waymon Hudson | June 11, 2009 12:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Amnesty International, human rights abuses, Iraq, LGBT Iraqis, State Department

Yesterday, the United States officially condemned the increasing violence towards the gay community in Iraq, which has spiked since the beginning of the Iraq War. The US Embassy in Baghdad has also raised the issue with Iraqi government officials.

Iran_gay.jpgThe State Department spokesman Ian Kelly had this to say when questioned on the issue by reporters:

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.

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. Our training for Iraqi security forces includes instruction on the proper observance of human rights.

Human rights training is also a very important part of our and other international donors' civilian capacity-building efforts in Iraq. And the US embassy in Baghdad has raised, and will continue to raise, the issue with senior officials from the government of Iraq, and has urged them to respond appropriately to all credible reports of violence against gay and lesbian Iraqis.

This comes after the growing chorus of international human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have begun speaking out about the atrocities in Iraq towards LGBT people.

iraqilgbt.jpgWhile statistics have been hard to gather on the number of LGBT Iraqis killed because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, it has recently been reported that at least 25 boys and men have been killed in Baghdad alone because they were either gay or believed to be. Horrific pictures of people killed by roving death squads have begun to leak out of the country at an alarming rate.

Many, including Amnesty International, have sent letters Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki urging government protection for the LGBT Community and expressing their concern that religious leaders may be inciting extreme violence towards LGBT Iraqis, as was the case in the the 2005 fatwa from one of Iraq's leading Shiite Muslim clerics, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, which declared that gays and lesbians should be "killed in the worst, most severe way" and more recently when Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr who ordered the "depravity of homosexuality be eradicated."

While the U.S. is coming to the table way too late on this issue, it is good to finally see some movement on this. The fully inclusive language and putting it in the terms of human rights is a heartening move by the State Department.

It is already too late for countless LGBT Iraqis, but perhaps some change can come with continued international pressure, led by the United States.

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Hilary has been great on gay issues as Secretary of State. She issued a Pride proclamation for State Department employees, and now this . Let's get her to talk to her boss about some issues.

My wife told me that this morning she caught a news story (BBC maybe) about growing movements toward right for LGBT people in the Middle East.

Let's hope so. I wish the media here in the States would pick up on this issue...

I think this is a very weak statement from our government. Having been reporting on this for awhile and speaking on it, there is so much more that the government can do rather than taking a passive stance and asking the ineffective Iraqi government to do something. Basically they're afraid of pissing anyone off over there because they have no allies.

This is my full perspective on the situation: http://unitethefight.blogspot.com/2009/06/state-department-issues-weak-official.html

I agree that this is a weak statement and we need to see some solid action on this. It does give me hope, however, that this new administration may end the country's deafening silence on this and hopefully> start some action.

Finally. That's good news.

Now, if only our military leaders could issue a statement regarding gay bashing within our own military.

This is nothing. A comment in a press conference, not a statement from Hillary.

Keep up the pressure. Write to your representative. Give money to Iraqi LGBT to actually SAVE people on the ground


Report: The Iraqi anti-LGBT pogrom

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 11, 2009 11:47 PM

Thanks for raising the question of contributing to saving the lives of our brothers and sisters in Iraq.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | June 11, 2009 11:44 PM

It's more than a little two-faced for Hillary Clintons’ DoS to blame the Iraqi police and militia, who the US military command arms and trains, for violating civil and humanitarian rights.

If Obama, Clinton and their government were serious about the problem they’d throw open the doors of US embassies and consulates in US puppet states like Iraq and Afghanistan and other states in the region declaring an open amnesty for GLBT folks threatened by murder and legal lynching.

The US is solely and directly responsible for arming, training and unleashing the jihadists who hunt down and murder GLBT folks. The jihadists after all are merely imitating the US government’s international campaign of kidnapping, torture and murder. Obama is continuing those policies, begun by Clinton and continued by Bush, without let up.

Bill Clinton was responsible for the deaths of roughly half a million children who died as a direct result of his embargo on food, medicine and sanitary supplies. Bush rehashed Clinton’s lies about WMDs and with the support of most Democrats including Hillary Clinton invaded and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama is continuing the occupation until the oil is secured and expanding the war, Nixon-like, to other nations.

There is no aspect of the vast murder of civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the jihadists murder fatwa against GLBT folks that does not directly flow from the aggressive wars and occupations by Clinton, Bush and Obama.

With Democrats like Obama, Biden and the Clintons, and there aren’t any other kind, who really needs Republicans?

Waymon, thanks for the great post!

One little quibble, the picture of the two men getting ready to be hung is from Iran, not Iraq. Not that it really matters, it's radically Anti-gay no matter how you look at it.

You're right, Brett! Thanks for pointing that out. The other photo, however, is.

But you're right, it's all radically anti-gay no matter what.

Bill, financial support really is desperately needed to save lives. Cannot stress this enough http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/ Please send what you can

Exactly Paul, This is something I've been trying to get people to donate to for years here on Bilerico- to keep safehouses open in Iraq for LGBT people.

It is soul-crushing to look at the date of one my posts on Iraqi Safehouses (Oct 2007) and realize the problem has only gotten far, far worse, especially after the trillions the U.S. have spent in Iraq.

Please give what you can!

Well, at least someone answered a question about it at a press conference. Maybe soon Clinton will actually make a real statement on it. And then maybe, just maybe, they'll actually do something about it instead of standing idly by...

Is it possible that by focusing on the Iraqi murders that the U.S. might begin to take a look at the violence and civil disparities towards trans, and gay people in the U.S.?

it was an interesting article in this morning's usa today about how the militia in iraq is targeting gays throughout the country, terrorizing, beating, torturing and killing them just for the mere fact of their being gay.

i guess it gives me pause to a small extent to ponder why it is i am still not out as a gay man - notwithstanding the issues i have in general, but if i were in a society in which gay was illegal; in which being "out there" even though not gay is seen as wrong and deserving of the same treatment - wow...how well off we are in our country to know the freedom we have.

yet we have far less freedom than we'd like, and far less freedom than we need as well. i've never been able to figure out why two partnered individuals had to be treated like strangers when one of them needed medical care or died; the other partner always left in the lurch with no say on treatment, no rights to an estate - almost makes me want to be militant.