A new feature article entitled “The Hunted” by Matt McAllister is now in New York Magazine, and details the grave threats posed towards gay Iraqis, as well as the pogroms that are increasingly being carried out against them there.
With all the catastrophe that has embroiled Iraq in the over 6 years that United States forces invaded Iraq, one of the issues that has been overshadowed most by sectarian strife and the myriad forms of other violence there has been the treatment of gays. They cannot advocate for equal rights or openly show pride in who they are as those in Tel Aviv, New York, or San Francisco can. They are the lost minority, devoid of ethnic and religious ties and therefore lacking political influence and the protections that come with political allegiances.
As McAllister points out “there are no votes to be gained or power to be accrued in any Iraqi community, Shia, Sunni, Kurds, Christians, Turkmen by supporting gay people. Gays in Iraq today are essentially a defenseless target.”
Although this is not a new threat it has been raised to a higher profile as a result of the exit of U.S. forces from Iraqi cities. Many Iraqi militias, most notably the Mahdi Army, which is affiliated with the fiery Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr, have began conducting Taliban-like moral campaigns to rid Iraq of so called deviants. This, as a recent Human Rights Watch report states, includes the targeting of “men seen as effeminate” or suspected of homosexual conduct.”
Horrible atrocities have been committed by these groups, the most notable of which, and gruesome beyond comprehension, first noted in Iraqi media, and later confirmed by Human Rights Watch, is the of the act of gluing shut the anuses of alleged homosexuals, and then forcing them to drink laxatives, causing their insides to burst because of diarrhea, poisoning them to death.
Those seeking refuge have little options for relief as conservative Arab society prevents them from finding safe refuge in nearby Arab states. Of those that apply for refugee status, the wait is long and means they must remain in harms way while their requests are processed. The lucky ones profiled in McAllister’s article, if they can be deemed lucky, as they have lost their livelihoods and numerous friends, were saved by the goodwill of common citizens such as HRW’s Scott Long, who helped to set up safe houses and help these Iraqis establish a new beginning overseas. Like all refugees, these Iraqis are grateful for the help that in many cases saved their lives. Yet they also realize that they may never be able to return to their homes and their previous lives, and they agonize over friends and family whose deaths may be lurking around the next corner.
Click Here to read the full article: The Hunted @ nymag.com
Click Here to Read the HRW report : “They Want us Exterminated”
To donate and help with efforts in resettling Iraqis of LGBT orientation: Iraqi LGBT