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Thursday, 6 May 2010

Gordon Brown answers question on LGBT Iraq and asylum

gordon brown sauceImage by Rakka via Flickr
The day before the UK election Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown has answered questions from readers of pinknews.co.uk. He gave the following answer to a question on LGBT life in Iraq and asylum.
Simon Reader: Life in Iraq is now much worse for gay people than it was under Saddam Hussein. As architects of the political situation in Iraq do you consider your government morally obliged to extend asylum more actively and with less bureaucracy to gay Iraqis who are in danger as a direct consequence of UK intervention in their country?

Gordon Brown: I unreservedly condemn abuses of gay rights, wherever in the world they happen, including in Iraq. But I'm sorry I can't agree that this is a result of military intervention.

Saddam's was a brutal regime which mistreated a wide range of minorities inside Iraq including LGBT people. Whatever people's views about the military intervention – and I have made clear that I think the international community had no choice given Saddam's repeated flouting of international resolutions as well as his abuses of his own people – I hope they will acknowledge that in almost all respects Iraq is a better place, and the Middle East a better and safer place, with him no longer in power.

Iraq is now an emerging democracy – definitely still with many flaws, but a strengthening democracy with the recent elections. We must continue to press the Iraqi government to improve their record on tolerance and human rights as we do with other countries in the region and the world.

I believe that human rights are universal, and that it is the job of mature democracies like Britain to support the development of free societies everywhere. I think Iraq now has a better chance of becoming a free society that genuinely respects human rights than it did under Saddam. As to your question on whether there is something we could do for gay asylum seekers from Iraq as a group, it is a fundamental principle of our asylum system that each cases is assessed fairly, separately, and on its merits.
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