Exposing persecution of LGBT individuals in Iraq

Editor’s Note: We are re-publishing here today’s press release from the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)  announcing the launch of two new briefings on violence and abuse of LGBT individuals in Iraq. The two reports are available for download on their website.  Click here for a full copy of the press release, including a summary of the briefings.

Cover images of two briefings released by IGLHRC and its partners LGBT people in Iraq have long been persecuted. But the rising tide of turmoil today puts many at imminent risk of death. The Islamic State prescribes death for the “practice” of homosexuality. Furthermore, evidence gathered for two briefings by IGLHRC and its partners, MADRE and the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, demonstrate the direct effect of the collapse of the rule of law on LGBT persons, through unfettered violence by sectarian militias. While the conflict in Iraq has placed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis at risk of serious human rights violations, LGBT Iraqis face unique threats to their safety. In addition, escape to previously safer areas, such as Iraqi Kurdistan, has been curtailed by the conflict. Unlike other groups, such as women or ethnic and religious minorities, LGBT people have little communal safety or protection from family, tribal or community members. Once exposed, family and community members, along with the authorities, are often complicit in abuses against LGBT individuals. When Coming Out is a Death Sentence puts the violence against LGBT Iraqis in context—as human rights abuses that must be confronted by the international community. A set of recommendations targets foreign embassies, aid groups and others with the goal of raising attention and trying to improve the situation for the community. “We’re Here: Iraqi LGBT People’s Accounts of Violence and Rights Abuses,” relates the suffering and harrowing experiences of five LGBT individuals – three gay men, a lesbian woman and a transgender woman — before the current crisis in Iraq set in. “We’re Here” highlights the long-standing exclusion, discrimination and violence against LGBT individuals in Iraq and describes the individuals’ daily struggles to survive and overcome violence and abuse.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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