Since the US-led coalition invasion of Iraq, gay people in Iraq have suffered particularly intense persecution.
It can be difficult to be gay or transgender in even the most liberal of societies. In a society that is in the throes of a civil war rooted in differences of religious interpretation, being LGBT is not merely difficult: it can be outright deadly.
Violence against all the gay community has intensified sharply since late 2005, when Iraq’s leading Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, issued a fatwa (religious decree) which declared that gays and lesbians should be "killed in the worst, most severe way".
An all volunteer group based in London strives to prevent this hatred from claiming even more life. IraqiLGBT provides safe housing (complete with guards) for gay, lesbian and transgender Iraqis. This group operates five such houses--or they did until recently--and seeks to relocate to safer parts of the country or even neighboring countries those that are persecuted for their sexuality and gender identity.
Unfortunately, two of these safe houses are closing and a third is operating against a deadline:
Two months after launching an intensive fundraising campaign to try to keep the group afloat, Friends of Iraqi LGBT must close two of its five safe houses in Iraq due to a lack of funds, according to the organization’s founder and coordinator Ali Hili.
The safe houses, which exist in various locations throughout the occupied nation, have provided much-needed protection to countless members of Iraq’s gay and transgendered community who face persecution since the US invasion.
And if at least $2,000 is not raised over the next two weeks, Hili told RAW STORY Thursday, a third safe house will have to be closed -- sending dozens of vulnerable LGBT Iraqis back onto the streets, where they face the possibly of beatings, imprisonment and even execution at the hands of the Shia militias that roam the war-torn nation’s streets.
Twenty-five extremely endangered men and women have already been turned out onto the streets in Iraq. They are forced back into an environment in which the supreme leader of a religious sect has declared a fatwa and encouraged his supplicants to kill--and kill painfully--any and all homosexuals. Now another 10 to 15 men and women face the same fate.
The only thing that seems to be able to stop this from befalling more LGBT Iraqis is for IraqiLGBT to collect enough money to continue operating their remaining safe houses. These safe houses are some of the few points of light for a community that exists in a country of gathering darkness. If these points of light should gutter and die because of a lack of funds, then many people will suffer.
Fortunately, IraqiLGBT operates a blog and is accepting donations through that blog. If you are able to, please read through the information on that blog. If it makes a compelling case, then please donate.
If my math is correct, the organization needs roughly 3000 American dollars a month in order to operate these safe houses. While that is a considerable amount for a single person to give, a tide of small donations ($5, $10, anything one can spare) could lift the remaining safe houses out of harm's way.
So please- if you are able to do so visit the blog, consider what it has to say and make a contribution within your means.
We talk a great deal about the suffering in Iraq. This offers us an acute means of remedying some of that suffering. We are fortunate that America, for all of its faults and shortcomings, is a tolerant nation that takes affirmative steps toward making sure that our native minority of bigots limit their violence to the realm of the rhetorical. In Iraq, words are the least an LGBT has to worry about.
Let us please give enough to create a few spaces of reprieve in a country where murderous bigotry hides behind the chaos of civil war.