■ Brian Coleman (left), the chairman if
the London Assembly, and Lord (Chris) Smith at the
“Faith, Homophobia and Human Rights” conference in
photo courtesy Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement
LONDON, February 19, 2007 – The
leader of the gay rights group
Iraqi LGBT, Ali Hili, received a standing
ovation from 250 delegates when he addressed the “Faith, Homophobia and
Human Rights” conference in London on Saturday.
Mr Hili, a gay refugee from Iraq,
is also Middle East Affairs spokesperson for the UK-based LGBT human rights
He told the conference that some
ministers in the US and UK-backed Iraqi government were colluding with death
squads responsible for the “sexual cleansing” of lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender (LGBT) Iraqis
“Iraqi LGBTs are at daily risk of
execution by the Shia death squads of the Badr and Sadr militias,” Mr. Hili
told delegates at the conference.
“Members of these militias have
infiltrated the Iraqi police and are abusing their police authority to
pursue a plan to eliminate all homosexuals in Iraq.
“This is happening with the
collusion of key ministers in the Iraqi government,” he pointed out.
“The Badr and Sadr militias are the
armed wings of the two main Shia parties that control the government of
“These governing parties –
particularly the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq – are
complicit in the widespread execution of Iraqi LGBTs.
“What is happening today in Iraq is
one of the most organised and systematic sexual cleansings in the history of
the world,” Mr Hili told the conference.
Referring to the abduction by death
squads, and presumed murder, of five members of Iraqi LGBT in Baghdad last
November, Mr Hili continued:
“For the previous few months these
activists had been documenting the killing of lesbians and gays, and
relaying details of homophobic executions to our office in London.
“I have no doubt that they were
targeted – not just because they were gay – but also to stop them exposing
to the outside world the anti-gay pogrom that is happening in Iraq today,”
Condemning the refusal of the
British and US governments to grant asylum to many refugees from the
homophobic and sectarian violence in Iraq, Mr Hili added: “The West, which
caused much the current chaos in Iraq, should be giving refuge to lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender Iraqis.
“Right now, the US and Britain are
turning down asylum claims by Iraqi LGBTs,” he said.
The “Faith, Homophobia and Human
Rights” conference had the support of 52 sponsors, including the Home
Office, religious organisations (gay and straight), trade unions, LGBT
groups, secular campaigners and ethnic minority agencies.
“We deplore the internalised
homophobia within religious institutions that fails to confront prejudice
and hate,” delegates said in a statement ratified by delegates from over 50
“We encourage and support those
faith organisations, which express their commitment to diversity and
equality in practice and policy. We believe that full civil rights for LGBT
individuals are not only consistent with the right to religious freedom, but
are rooted in the best and fundamental teachings of all major faiths; love,
justice, compassion, and mercy, such values being shared by all who seek the
Conference organiser Rev. Richard
Kirker of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement said that members of the
world’s six largest religions, as well as humanists, secularists, agnostics,
and atheists, from a wide variety of political parties, trade unions, and
community groups drawn from the whole of Britain, showed they wanted to work
more closely together in the face of threats from religious fundamentalists.
“The conference clearly believed it
was more important to unite and bear witness to the importance of promoting
human rights, than to dwell on differences which would pale into irrelevant
insignificance if fundamentalism’s inherently intolerant agenda were to gain
strength,” he said.
“The spirit and vision of the 250
people who attended showed how much cooperation is possible, and how much
goodwill there is to challenge homophobia. The Commission on Equality and
Human Rights (CEHR), in particular, has been sent a strong signal to address
these issues with the priority they clearly deserve.
“We will be writing to a large
number of faith and public bodies to draw their attention to the wishes of
the conference and inviting them to act on key recommendations,” Rev. Kirker
Other speakers at the conference
included the openly gay Lord (Chris) Smith, former Secretary of State for
Culture, Media & Sport, chairman-designate Advertising Standards Authority,
as well as Vic Codling of the Gay Police Association; Revd Malcolm Duncan of
Faithworks; Revd Giles Fraser, broadcaster and Guardian columnist and Team
Rector of Putney, who is also the president of Inclusive Church; Sandhya
Drew, Barrister, Tooks Chambers and specialist in Equality and Human Rights
Law; Kay Carberry, Assistant General Secretary, TUC who is currently an
Equal Opportunities Commissioner; and Arpita Dutt, a partner at Russell
Jones and Walker solicitors and chair of the London Anti-Racist Alliance.
For podcasts of the speeches, click
Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement
Posted: 19 February 2007 at
13:30 (UK time)