The World's New Gay State

The Gay-Iraqi crisis

Posted in Gay independence, LGBT Politics by thegaystateblog on June 18, 2010

Posted By Taylor Asen , Zach Strassburger Friday, June 18, 2010 – 11:08 AM Share

In September 2006, Samir, an Iraqi doctor, fled from his home to Jordan just moments before family members came to torture and murder him for “dishonoring” the family by being gay. Samir spent the next few years fleeing from country to country. While working in a hospital in Jordan, he spotted his uncles searching for him just in time to slip out of his office and escape to Saudi Arabia, only to be tortured and nearly killed by Saudi Arabia’s “moral police,” sending him fleeing back to Jordan.

Unfortunately, the only thing uncommon about Samir’s story is that it has a happy ending. With legal help from the Human Rights Watch and the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), Samir safely resettled in the United States in December, 2009. But, unlike Samir, the vast majority of gay Iraqis have no access to legal counsel. Without it, they have little chance of navigating the resettlement system and getting to safety in the U.S. Even those Iraqis with legal help face the staggering challenge of staying alive during the lengthy resettlement process.

The consequences for gay Iraqis who fail to obtain refugee status are severe. Since 2004, hundreds of young men suspected of homosexual conduct have been abducted, tortured, and brutally executed with only a cursory response from Iraqi authorities. Our clients at IRAP and others provide appalling accounts of the violence: in one gruesome method of torture (and often murder), gay men have their anuses glued shut before being fed laxatives.

Although Samir was pursued by family members, the fanatical Mahdi Army is responsible for much of the violence towards gays. “Death squads” murder men, then leave their destroyed bodies in public as warnings to other gay men. Their brutality is matched only by their frighteningly systematic methods: before murdering their captives, the squads interrogate their victims, search through cell phones and demand information on each contact. In this climate, no gay Iraqi whose sexual identity is known to even one other gay man is safe. Another of our clients, Yasser, was kidnapped by a gang who had also kidnapped his ex-boyfriend and found Yasser’s information in his phone. Though Yasser eventually escaped, the gang also seized his phone — and the names and numbers of all of his gay acquaintances.

Click here to go to the rest of the article in Foreign Policy Magazine: http://mideast.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/06/17/the_gay_iraqi_crisis

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