Monday, August 17, 2009

Iraqi Impunity

Iraqi couple brutally tortured by Iraqi militia.

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When I interviewed Arsham Parsi, the Founder of the Iranian Queer Railroad last year, I was horrified to learn of the widespread persecution of LGBT individuals in his country. I posted Arsham’s story of how he fled to Turkey and eventually was granted asylum in Canada on May 17, 2008. Since that time, Arsham has worked tirelessly to help other LGBT asylum seekers find sanctuary. But the trouble in the Middle East does not end there.

In neighboring Iraq, Human Rights Watch reports today that Militiamen are torturing and killing gay men with impunity. They are being beaten and left for dead in the streets. The use of glue to seal men’s rectum’s remains a common form of torture. Gay men are being systematically executed and then tossed in garbage bins. Public hangings are taking place in Baghdad with threats and abuses against homosexuals taking place in cities throughout the country. Shiite militias believe that homosexuality is a form of deviance that cannot be tolerated and social cleansing is ordained. “The dead probably already number in the hundreds” according to a source from the United Nation’s Mission for Iraq.

Human Rights Watch ( has just released a chilling report written by the intrepid Scott Long, Director of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender programs. They Want Us Exterminated: Murder Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq is eye opening to say the least. It is heartbreaking to read the first hand accounts of fear, violence, and murder. Iraqi police forces appear to be doing little to investigate or halt the killings. You can read the complete report at

But what to do? We’ve donated money to HRW - we all need to donate more. We must all sign the petition on HRW’s web site urging the UN to advocate more forcefully for global LGBT rights. We need to keep the media alerted and awaken the world to these atrocities.

We need to finish our play Rights of Passage sooner rather than later.


Paul Canning said...

If you want to practically help send some $$$ the way of 'Iraqi LGBT'

They run safe houses inside Iraq as well as supporting refugees in the rest of the middle east.

Whilst the HRW report is good news for raising the profile of the pogrom, only Iraqi LGBT is actually supporting people (saving them from murder) inside the country. But funds are scarce and they consequently have to turn people away.

To find out more, read their annual report which is published on their website.

Ed and Bob said...

Thanks for your message Paul. We have added a link to the Iraqi LGBT site you reference on our main page. Also, we are sending a gift to support their safe house efforts.