Sunday, October 11, 2009

What War Brings: violence and oppression to gays

Yet another sad aspect of a war and occupation is the violence and suppression of minority groups, particularly religious and sexual minorities. Sometimes it is the occupier who is instigating the violence, sometimes it is other outsiders who bring the violence and oppression, and sometimes it is an internal effect of the war and occupation.


Violence against minority groups is rampant in the US occupation of Iraq. It has been directed towards various religious minority groups, especially in the beginning of the occupation. Today, a lot of violence is directed at gays. It has been extremely brutal. This is a report from July 2009.

New wave of violence against Iraqi gays

Iraqi gays are being targeted and killed in what rights campaigners say is some of the worst violence against the community in recent years. At least 68 gay and transgendered men have been killed over the last four months, according to the London-based rights advocacy group Iraqi LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender), bringing the total number of killings of Iraqis because of their sexuality to 678 since 2004. New York-based Human Rights Watch, which recently conducted field investigations on the violence, estimates that hundreds of homosexual men may have been killed in recent months.

This violence goes so far as to post lists of ‘wanted’ men in local neighborhoods. It is believed that the Mehdi army is behind this, although no one has claimed credit. There have been accusations of US soldiers’ involvement in some of the crimes. What we do know is that Iraqi men were routinely picked up by US troops and then detained naked. And we do know that the prisoners at Abu Ghraib were forced to engage in sex acts. This report was from July 2009 and came from a fundraiser event in Lebanon.

US soldiers accused of executing gay Iraqis

The accusations were made by two unnamed, gay Iraqi refugees during a fundraiser event at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters. Several violent images of a beheaded gay Iraqi were shown to the audience by one of the men, who goes by the name “Hussam.” He shocked the audience by claiming U.S. soldiers have also detained and executed Iraqi men perceived to be gay. Images were shown of a U.S. soldier standing over a group of naked men chained together who Hussam claims were gay. Hussam said he possesses images of their execution but did not show them to the audience.

Saddam's rule 'better' for gay Iraqis

There has been so much news of death and destruction from Iraq that the position of sexual minorities is rarely touched on in the mainstream media. But stories of torture and murder of gay Iraqis, particularly men, have been emerging in the gay press for several years.

The torture is extreme, and very sickening. Things were definitely better under Saddam’s rule. Back then, they turned a ‘blind eye’ to any gay events, as long as they did not tangle with Saddam politically. The situation for gay men in Iraq is only getting worse. This report is from September 2009.

How Islamist gangs use internet to track, torture and kill Iraqi gays

Sitting on the floor, wearing traditional Islamic clothes and holding an old notebook, Abu Hamizi, 22, spends at least six hours a day searching internet chatrooms linked to gay websites. He is not looking for new friends, but for victims. "It is the easiest way to find those people who are destroying Islam and who want to dirty the reputation we took centuries to build up," he said. When he finds them, Hamizi arranges for them to be attacked and sometimes killed. Hamizi, a computer science graduate, is at the cutting edge of a new wave of violence against gay men in Iraq. Made up of hardline extremists, Hamizi's group and others like it are believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 130 gay Iraqi men since the beginning of the year alone.

There are volumes more that could be written about this subject. As far as I can tell in Afghanistan and Pakistan, there is no wide-spread effort to assassinate gays or torture them. There are cases of kidnapping and rape towards young boys in Afghanistan, but that is a case of them being targeted because they are male and young, not because they are gay. I suspect there are problems with the persecution of gays in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but I have not seen any reports of violence and oppression against gays so far.

Photo above: The bodies of gays on the streets of Iraq. Photograph: Bilal Hussein/AP

If you support the continued occupation of Iraq or Afghanistan, or the bombing of Pakistan, then you support WHAT WAR BRINGS: violence and oppression to gays.