Anonymity, Ephemeral Love Key For Gay Survival In “Democratic” Iraq

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The United States government likes to say that Iraq’s more “democratic” since the 2003 invasion, but that’s definitely not the case for the nation’s homo population.

CNN spoke with Kamal, now 18, and his 21-year-old friend, Rami, about what it’s like to be gay in Iraq. Coming out as gay is not easy in any country, but to do so in Iraq could mean a death sentence or torture.

The two men rarely show feelings toward each other in public. They spend a lot of time in Internet cafes in Baghdad, surfing gay chat rooms and seeking contacts with other gay men in Iraq and elsewhere.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, the situation for gays and lesbians in Iraq has deteriorated. Ridiculed under Hussein, many now find themselves the targets of violence, according to humanitarian officials.

Lesbians are also victims of harassment and violence, but not nearly as often as gay men.

It’s unknown how many homosexuals have been killed by militias in the lawless streets of Iraq’s cities, but some Web sites post pictures of Iraqis they say were killed for being gay.

One photo on the Iraqi Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender site shows a group of men standing around three male bodies sprawled on a street, blood pouring from their heads. “Gay Iraqi victims of the police and death squads,” the site says.

Those death squads can be found on both sides of the religious divide. Some claim the democratizing US Military knows all about them, yet they do nothing. Homo-politicos Tammy Baldwin and Barney Frank have both urged the Pentagon to address the matter. It hasn’t.