Victims of the death squads: From left: Haydar Faiek, Ammar,Ameer Hasoon,Emad, Hosam Mortatha, Khalid
transgender people. The UK-based LGBT human rights group OutRage! is working to support our counterpart organisation in Baghdad,Iraqi LGBT. Despite the great danger
Wathiq,aged 29,a gay architect, was kidnapped in Baghdad last March. Soon afterwards,the Badr militia sent his parents death threats,accusing them of allowing their son to lead a gay life and demanding a £11,000 ransom. The parents paid the money, thinking it would save Wathiq's life. But he was found dead a few days later,with his body mutilated and his head cut off.
militias want to establish an Iranian-style religious dictatorship – or worse. Some of the anti-war left in Britain and the US support Muqtada al-Sadr,despite his goal of clerical fascism and his militia’s involvement in death squad killings. They hail him as a national resistance hero for fighting the US and UK occupation of Iraq; totally ignoring his militia’s sectarian murder of innocent Sunni Muslims, women and gay people. The allied occupation of Iraq is bad enough. But victory for the Madhi or Badr militias would result in a reign of religious terror many times worse. The execution of lesbian and gay Iraqis by Islamist death squads and militias is symptomatic of the fate that will befall all Iraqis if the fundamentalists continue to gain influence. The summary killing of queers is the canary in the mine – a warning of the barbarism to come. Lesbian and gay Iraqis cannot seek the protection of the police. Iraq’s security forces have been infiltrated by fundamentalists, especially the Badr militia. They have huge influence in the Interior Ministry and the police, and can kill at will and with impunity. Profundamentalist government ministers are turning a blind eye to the killings,and helping to
protect the killers. Likewise,the Iraqi government and police are doing nothing to rescue the hundreds of young boys who have been blackmailed into the sex industry. The sex-ring operators lure the boys into having gay sex,photograph them and then threaten to publish their photos unless they work as male prostitutes. If their gayness were publicly revealed,the boys would be executed by the Islamist militias. They are trapped. Saddam was a bloody tyrant. But while he was in power discreet homosexuality was usually tolerated. There was certainly no danger of gay people being assassinated in the street by religious fanatics. Since his overthrow,the violent persecution of lesbians and gays is commonplace. It is actively encouraged by Iraq’s leading Muslim cleric,the British and USbacked Grand Ayatollah Ali alSistani. In late 2005,he issued a fatwa ordering the execution of gay Iraqis. His followers in the Islamist militias are now systematically assassinating lesbian,gay, bisexual and
Nyaz is a 28-year-old dentist who lives in Baghdad. She is terrified that her lesbian relationship will be discovered,and that both she and her partner will be killed. Nyaz is being forced by the fundamentalist Mahdi militia to marry a senior Mullah with close ties to Muqtada al-Sadr. If she does not agree to the marriage,or tries to run away,Nyaz and her family will be targeted for “honour killing” by Sadr’s men.
involved,Iraqi LGBT has established a clandestine network of gay activists inside Iraq’s major cities, including Baghdad,Najaf,Karbala, Hilla and Basra. These courageous activists are helping gay people on the run from fundamentalist death squads,hiding them in safe houses in Baghdad and helping them escape to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. The world ignores the fate of LGBT Iraqis at its peril. Their fate today is the fate of all Iraqis tomorrow. ■
The father of 23-year-old Baghdad arts student Karzan has been told by militias that his son has been sentenced to death for being gay. If his father refuses to hand over Karzan for execution,the militia has threatened to kill the family one by one. This has already happened to Bashar,34,an actor. Because his parents refuse to reveal his hiding place,the Badr militia murdered two of his family members in retribution.
Iraqi LGBT is appealing for funds to help their work in Iraq. The UK gay rights group OutRage! is helping them. Cheques payable to “OutRage!”, and marked “For Iraqi LGBT”, can be sent to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT. More info on Iraqi LGBT: iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com More about Peter Tatchell’s human rights campaigns: www.petertatchell.net
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