Monday, August 17, 2009

To Be Gay in Iraq

It seems that one of the freedoms we brought to Iraq was gay-bashing. Human Rights Watch is reporting that hundreds of gay men have been attacked and tortured in Iraq.

Interviews with doctors indicate hundreds of men had been killed, but the exact number was unclear because of the stigma associated with homosexuality in Iraq, the New York-based watchdog group said in its report.

“Iraq’s leaders are supposed to defend all Iraqis, not abandon them to armed agents of hate,” said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “Turning a blind eye to torture and murder threatens the rights and life of every Iraqi.”

Iraqi officials acknowledged that the nation’s culture stigmatizes homosexuality, but said the government does not condone such attacks. Authorities are unable to provide homosexuals with special protection, said government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh.

I know that there is a cultural stigma in the Middle East against homosexuality, thanks to religion and the patriarchal traditions. I also know that our influence in trying to get Iraqis to treat everyone as equal, regardless of gender or sexual orientation is a monumental task, especially since we haven’t achieved it here.