UK

Ovation for Gay Iraqi at London ‘Faith’ Conference

 

US and UK condemned for refusing asylum to gay Iraqis
 

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■ Brian Coleman (left), the chairman if the London Assembly, and Lord (Chris) Smith at the “Faith, Homophobia and Human Rights” conference in London.
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 group, OutRage!.

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 Iraq.

“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,” he said.

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 organisations.

“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 common good.”

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 added.

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 HERE

LINKS

  IraqiLGBT website
     
  Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement website
     

OUTRAGE!

  Outrage! website

 

Posted: 19 February 2007 at 13:30 (UK time)

 

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