Friday, May 15, 2009

Unite the Fight Source Speaks to VP Biden on Iraqi Gay Torture - Response "Discouraging"

Mike Bonin, Chief of Staff for Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl, both of whom were vital to getting the Los Angeles City Council to pass a resolution condemning the torture and murder of gay men in Iraq, gave the following account about his exchange with Vice President Joe Biden about the issue.
I was part of a group of 15 or so people who got to spend 45 mins with the veep this morning. After the handshake and photo op, I asked him if I could ask a question. I mentioned the UN report, the call for action by Amnesty International, and the reports of horrible anal glue torture. I asked him what the US govt could do.

He gave me a very long and detailed answer, condemning not just the attacks on gays, but also marital rape in Iraq and Afghanistan. He conceded the answer he was going to give me would not please me and went on to explain that the Iraqi and Afghani government is either too ineffectual to act, or is afraid of offending the religious zealots who perpetuate the attacks.

He said that last time he was in Iraq the US military intervened to stop an attack on a man who was being assaulted for being gay. He assured me the US military would continue to act, but it is virtually impossible to know of the events as they are happening, let alone prevent them.

His comments were sobering and quite discouraging -- although I was mildly encouraged that such a high-ranking US official was clearly aware of the details of the issue. The noise being made has not totally fallen on deaf ears.

Later, as he ended the Q&A session and was preparing to leave, he turned back to me, looked me in eye, and told me he wanted me to know he would not forget the issue, and that the administration would not let it go.

More noise and continued attention to this and other human rights abuses, not just against the LGBT community, is imperative.
Ugh. I can understand how difficult it is for the military to stop the torture when it's happening (because how could they know?), but the Afghan and Iraqi governments are afraid to offend the extremists? How about how the zealots are offending those they torture? I can understand it is a delicate situation, but the chosen path is to remain silent?

It appears as if our government is also cowering to these extremists! The least the US government could do is practice what it preaches and issue a strong statement to the Iraqi and Afghan governments demanding they do something, however ineffectual.

If in fact Biden does stick to his statement that the administration would not let this issue go, then there is some hope. But with their continued silence on LGBT rights, I wouldn't expect them to do anything anytime soon.

So like my friend said, "More noise and continued attention to this and other human rights abuses, not just against the LGBT community, is imperative."

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