Gays Without Borders/SF teamed up with Rainbow World Fund to organize the rally with a goal to raise $10,000 in direct aid for fleeing Iraqis.
By Garry Virginia
Gays Without Borders/San Francisco
On May 17, International Day Against Homophobia, more than 100 people participated in the Castro Rally at Milk Plaza to raise awareness of LGBT Iraqis facing increased torture and murder. Sadly, this story has been buried for five years in the mainstream media while 600 documented gay murders have occurred.
Heartfelt thanks to the many speakers, volunteers, and everyone who donated online and in the streets for a total of $4,500 so far. Special thanks to the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Inc. for a $1,000 leadership gift and critical volunteer support. Rev. Don Fox, former Night Minister, presented a $300 check on behalf of St. Aidan’s Episcopal Church.
“I had no idea this was going on,” said most passersby, referring to the genital mutilations, executions, torture and witch hunt of gays and suspected gays. Once people viewed photos of the victims — some showing groups of preteens bloodied and dead in the streets with a cadre of onlookers reading “pervert” notes on the victims’ chests — and read copies of stories from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and other media, the donations flowed.
For the uninformed, the US occupation of Iraq has lead to a false sense of security for minorities to express themselves more fully. LGBT Iraqis would gather in cafes, dress and act more expressively, and be a bit more open. This decision has proved fatal.
AND NEIGHBORING IRAN DOESN’T EVEN HAVE GAYS
In 2006 the Washington Blade reported that a powerful Islamic leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa in October 2005 calling for the killing of gays in Iraq. Ali al-Sistani stated “Those who commit sodomy must be killed in the harshest way,” according to BBC news reports. A network of gay Iraqi exiles in Europe reported that the fatwa triggered a flurry of assassinations, kidnappings and death threats against Iraqi gays.
The Badr Corps was already killing suspected gays but was emboldened by the fatwa. The Badr Corps is the military arm of the Iranian-backed Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the powerful Shia group that is the largest political formation in Iraq’s Shia community.
According to an exiled gay Iraqi, entrapment through internet sites and threats to unmarried men over 30 result in kidnappings, beatings, arrests, disappearance and a soon death. The bodies are usually discovered with their hands bound behind their back, blindfolds over their eyes, and bullet wounds to the back of the head.
Fast forward four years and the situation has gotten worse. The world has shown a blind eye toward gay Iraqis in spite of billions of US tax dollars and military lives (including gays) lost to bring “democracy” to Iraq.
In past months, bodies of as many as 25 boys and men suspected of being gay have turned up in the Shiite enclave of Sadr City. Twenty men have shown up in hospitals with mutilated genitals. Recent accusations evidence gluing of anuses and forced laxatives for a slow, painful death. A Sadr City cafe frequented by gay men recently burned down under mysterious circumstances.
It’s lazy to say that the Iraq situation is too confusing for us to take action. Openly gay Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) made his own investigation in Iraq and verified the horrific conditions for LGBTs. He has asked for a State Department investigation and donated $10,000 of his own funds for aid.
It is time for President Obama and Speaker Pelosi to stand up for human rights for LGBT Iraqis in this American occupied country. Their own foibles with detainee torture and overall complexity with the Middle East are no excuse to not denounce abuse and torture. At a minimum, use our forces to provide a safe escape and asylum for all LGBT Iraqis, even if done discretely. If Iraqis can spot suspected LGBTs, surely our soldiers can and offer rescue.
I feel that if we are aware of torture and murder of gays anywhere in the world, we have a moral obligation to act. If not, we become a party to it. Collections can be organized by schools, churches, businesses small and large, clubs and organizations, non profits and foundations.
The sexual cleansing of Iraq is our LGBT generation’s Holocaust. What will you do to stop it? How long will LGBTs allow ourselves to be on the bottom rung of human rights around the world?
Tax deductible donations for direct aid to LGBT Iraqis may be made to: Rainbow World Fund, 4111 18th St., #5, SF CA 94114; rainbowfund.org