Thursday, June 11, 2009

State Department Issues Weak "Official" Condemnation of LGBT Torture in Iraq (Disturbing Image)

Today, the Department of State held a press conference in which they issued a statement on the torture and murder of LGBT in Iraq.
US condemns acts of violence and human rights violations against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Training for Iraqis security forces includes instruction on proper observance of human rights.

The US Embassy will continue to raise the issue with senior Iraqi officials / Urged them to respond appropriately to all credible reports of violence against gay and lesbian Iraqis.
During the press conference, Assistant Secretary of Public Affairs Ian Kelly was asked the following.

Iraq if I can. The other week, Muqtada al-Sadr said that the depravity of homosexuality must be eradicated. And while he went on to say that he was not advocating violence, there obviously has been a lot of rather gruesome violence directed at gays and lesbians in Iraq. So I was wondering if State has any reaction to that.

And then off the back of that, is there any extra responsibility that the U.S. feels towards these groups who were, by their accounts, safer and more free to live their lives under Saddam?

MR. KELLY: Well, let me say that, in general, we absolutely condemn acts of violence and human rights violations committed against individuals in Iraq because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is an issue that we’ve been following very closely since we have been made aware of these allegations, and we are aware of the allegations.

Our training for Iraqi security forces includes instruction on the proper observance of human rights. Human rights training is also a very important part of our and other international donors’ civilian capacity-building efforts in Iraq. And the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has raised and will continue to raise the issue with senior officials from the Government of Iraq, and has urged them to respond appropriately to all credible reports of violence against gay and lesbian Iraqis.

"In general"? "Our training"? In general, the training isn't working. And the passive action of "raising the issue" is absurdly not enough.

Recently, a press release issued from Iraqi LGBT stated that they have been calling attention to the persecution for over four years, claiming that Iraqi police officials were also a part of it. (It's been reported that at least 30 have been killed just in the last three months.)The US Embassy responded, "We have no evidence that [the Iraq government's] security forces are in any way involved with these militias." (Unlike other Muslim countries, such as Iran, Saudia Arabia and Pakistan where homosexuality carries the death penalty, Iraq has no such laws.)

The release went on to state, "[Iraqi LGBT] Group members speaking from Iraq said that they are 'fed up with such 'political' words' and that the Americans are doing nothing to stop the terror campaign against them. They believe that the priority for Hillary Clinton's State Department and Obama's administration is to not upset the Iraqi government as they have no other allies within the country."

So why the outrageous laziness from our own country, the leader in human rights enforcement (a title we obviously can't claim now after the Bush debacle)? Could it be that the embassy is too busy celebrating Pride to help their fellow LGBT? Or is it because, as Vice President Biden told a friend of Unite the Fight, that the US and Iraqi governments are afraid of pissing off the religious militias even more than they already are, confirming the Iraqi LGBT press release?

Why should this matter? We're already at war, aren't we? Are we going to appease these homophobic torturers just because we're losing and are afraid of their reaction? I wonder if America would react differently if it were straight victims being tortured and murdered.

The amazing point is that it appears the State Department thought their statement today would somehow address these issues, but all they did was point out their incapacity to do anything right when it comes to the human rights violations of LGBT. And though it was under Bush's administration, America wouldn't even sign the UN Statement condemning criminalization of LGBT relationships. Thankfully the Obama administration immediately signed the document, but do they think that it tidied the whole mess up and they can now ignore what's happening under their very noses in Iraq?

Until our country, which has caused these problems by illegally invading Iraq without any forethought of consequences, takes responsibility for what happens in the country we're occupying, then we're just as guilty as the Iraqi government.

We're accountable. We have blood on our hands.

ACTION: PLEASE sign this petition demanding that Obama and Congress be more active in ending these human rights violations. So far only 681 have signed, and the goal is for 2,500.

IMAGE: Bodies of 6 gay men found in Baghdad.

Click on "Iraq" under this post to read related posts on this issue.


  1. This is nothing. A comment in a press conference, not a statement from Hillary.

    Keep up the pressure. Write to your representative. Give money to Iraqi LGBT to actually SAVE people on the ground

    Report: The Iraqi anti-LGBT pogrom

  2. I agree that it's nothing. But that's part of the problem. :( It should be more! And from Hillary, too. Something more active and not passive in their plan to stop this, and many of the other atrocious human rights violations taking place in Iraq.

    I'll definitely keep up the pressure.

    And thank you for all your work and links!