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IRAQ

“We Feel Deserted By the International Gay Community” – Gay Iraqis

 

“Few People Seem to Care About Our Fate”

Three Iraq Safe Houses for Gays Forced To Close
 

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“Several months ago, two lesbians working with Iraqi LGBT were assassinated in the safe house they were running in Najaf, along with a young boy the women had rescued from the sex industry.”


 

■ You can make a donation to help keep the remaining safe houses for gay people in Iraq via credit card/PayPay - click on logo above.

LONDON and BAGHDAD, November 6, 2007  –  Three out of the five gay safe houses for gay people in Iraq are being forced to close down, due to a lack of funds to pay their rent and utility bills, the London-based Iraqi LGBT revealed this afternoon.

The refuges were set up two years ago, to provide a place of safety for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Iraqis who have fled homophobic threats and attempts to kill them by religious fundamentalists and death squads.

“Iraqi LGBT has made a huge effort to keep all of its five safe houses running, to provide refuge for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Iraqis who have fled homophobic violence and threats to kill them,” said Ali Hili, founder and coordinator of the human rights group, Iraqi LGBT.

“Many of the people we helped have been targeted by the Iraqi police and by Shia militia and other fundamentalist factions.

“Because of a lack of funds, three safe houses have had to close their doors.

“This decision will break a lot of hearts, but we have no other choice.  We don’t have the financial support to sustain these refuges.

“Over 30 gay residents who we cared for in these three safe houses now have to take their chances in a country where religious militia regularly seek out gays and execute them.

“Several months ago, two lesbians working with Iraqi LGBT were assassinated in the safe house they were running in Najaf, along with a young boy the women had rescued from the sex industry.

“We feel deserted by the international gay community.  Few people seem to care about our fate,” Mr. Hili said.

“Many brave LGBT Iraqis assisted our efforts.  We would like to acknowledge their exceptional commitment.

“Sabah, Gada, Sana and Mona are four lesbians who dedicated their time and energy to provide food, cleaning and support to people in the safe houses in their area.

“We’d also like to thank Hasan , Safa , Jawad, Laith , Gasaq and Rami,” said Mr Hilli.

Speaking from inside Iraq, Sabah, a 29 year old lesbian, who worked as a carer and ran a safe house in the south of Iraq, was distraught.

“The world has let us down so badly,” she said.

Safa is a gay man in the city of Ammara where he has been hiding for the last eight months from the police and Shia death squads

“Nowadays, we don’t dare be seen in the neighbourhoods where we used to live,” he said.

“It is too dangerous for anyone known to be gay or to have had a homosexual past,” he added.

Safa fled his hometown of Najaf because he was known to be gay and feared assassination.

“Iraqi LGBT is doing amazing, heroic work,” said Peter Tatchell of the UK-based gay human rights organisation, OutRage!

“It’s members inside Iraq are taking huge personal risks to protect the victims of homophobic persecution,” he pointed out.  

“Their efforts are truly inspirational.

“I urge the international LGBT community to rally round and raise the funds needed to sustain the remaining two safe houses. Please give generously,” he urged.

Meanwhile, Iraqi LGBT blames the Western invasion and occupation of their country for unleashing religious fanaticism and causing the current homophobic killing spree:

“Much of the world failed to oppose the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and to prevent what has turned out to be the worst western intervention catastrophe in modern history,” added Mr Hili.

“The Iraqi gay community feels badly let down in our moment of need.

“Are gay people in the United States, Britain and Australia aware of what their governments have done to our country?

“Their armies invaded and occupied our land, destroyed the infrastructure of government, and created the chaos and lawlessness that has allowed religious fundamentalism to flourish and to terrorise woman and gay people.

“Violence against gays has intensified sharply since late 2005, when Iraq’s leading Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa, or religious decree, which declared that gays and lesbians should be ‘killed in the worst, most severe way possible’.

“Since then, LGBT people have been specifically targeted by the Madhi Army, the militia of fundamentalist Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, as well as by the Badr organisation and other Shia death squads. Badr is the military arm of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is one of the leading political forces in Baghdad's western-backed ruling coalition,” said Mr Hili.

Can you make a donation to help Iraqi lgbt sustain its magnificent efforts? YOU CAN MAKE AN ONLINE SECURE DONATION BY PAYPAL

OutRage! is working with Iraqi LGBT to support its work.  Iraqi LGBT is coordinated by Ali Hili from the safety of London UK.

The group does not have its own bank account.  Operating an Iraqi LGBT bank account in Baghdad would be suicide.  For this reason, it has to operate its finances from London.

All the group’s members in London are Iraqi refugees seeking asylum.  Their lack of proper legal status makes it impossible for them to open a bank account in the UK.

This is why Iraqi LGBT is asking that cheques be made payable to “OutRage!”, with a cover note marked “For Iraqi LGBT”, and sent to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT, England, UK.

OutRage! then forwards the donations received to Ali Hili and Iraqi LGBT for wire transfer to activists in Baghdad.

■  Since mid-September, just £1,300 (about $2,700) has been raised.  That is enough to finance ONE House accommodating 10 gay people for about SIX weeks.  This includes rent, food, water/electricity and the all-important security guards.

SEE ALSO

Related YouTube video (9 minutes)

Two ‘Safe Houses’ for Gays in Iraq Set To Close for Lack of Donations. Up to 25 gay men will next month have to ‘take their chances’ in Iraq where religious militia regularly seek out gays and execute them.  Two ‘safe houses’ for gays will be forced to close at the end month – due to lack of cash, it was learned last night.  (UK Gay News, October 17, 2007)

Cash Crisis Puts Doubt on Future of ‘Safe Houses’ for Gays in Iraq.  Iraqi LGBT is facing a cash crisis in their efforts to assist lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people in Iraq.  For over a year, Friends of Iraqi LGBT has been trying to help by funding safe houses in Iraq for those who have come to the attention of the death squads and who have consequently had to flee their homes.   (UK Gay News, September 15, 2007)

For Gays in Iraq, a Life of Constant Fear.  By Molly Hennessy-Fiske.  BAGHDAD — Samir Shaba sits in a restaurant, nervously describing gay life in Iraq. He speaks in a low voice, occasionally glancing over his shoulder.  (Los Angeles Times, August 5, 2007)

More Gays Executed.  Iraqi lesbians and gays continue to be subjected a systematic reign of terror by Shia death squads, Ali Hili, the coordinator of the human rights group Iraqi LGBT, said in London this morning.  Warning - there is a graphic image on this page.  (UK Gay News, April 4, 2007)

Iraqi Police Execute “Gay” Child in Baghdad.  Gay human rights group Outrage! has today accused Iraqi police of executing a 14 year old boy in the al-Dura district of Baghdad in early April. (UK Gay News, May 4, 2006)

Ahmed’s Story – A Cruel, Barbaric Death.  By Ali Hili.  Ahmed Khalil was a likeable, playful 14 year old boy, born in the southern Iraqi town of al-Ammara.  The eldest child, he came from an uneducated family who lived in great poverty.  (UK Gay News, May 4, 2006)

Focus on Teens Trapped In Commercial Gay Sex Trade in Iraq Hassan Feiraz, a 16-year-old boy, has started a desperate new life since being forced into the sex trade in Baghdad, joining a growing number of adolescents soliciting in Iraq under the threat of street gangs or the force of poverty.  “Every day I cry at night,” Feiraz said.  “I’m a homosexual and was forced to work as a prostitute because one of the people I had sex with took pictures of me in bed and said that, if I didn't work for him, he was going to send the pictures to my family.”  (UK Gay News, August 8, 2005)

Iraqi Gays Face Abuse and Murder.  As Iraq wrestles with its planned constitution, the country’s gays and lesbians face blackmail, rape and murder, a LGBT human rights group charged today.  (UK Gay News, August 16, 2005)

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Posted: 06 November 2007 at 16:00 (UK time)

 

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