While gay journalists, primarily Doug Ireland, have been chronicling the plight of Iraqi’s queers, mainstream media has remained largely silent on the issue. Until now.
“I cannot change everything immediately,” he said, fingering his black ponytail. “I suffered because I didn’t cut it.”
Recently, Shaba said, police commandos spotted his hair as he was riding in a taxi through a checkpoint in central Baghdad. Suspecting that he was gay, the four commandos dragged him out of the taxi by his hair, and forced him into an armored car. They demanded his cellphone, cash and sex.
When he refused, they beat him with a baton and gang-raped him. He rubbed the back of his shirt, feeling for the scars.
Shaba’s one of the lucky ones. Iraqi gay activist Ali Hili estimates that about 400 gay men and women have been killed since 2005, when Shia spiritual leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani declared war on the lavender set.
The Iraqi government, of course, says there’s no problem. Human rights minister Widjan Mikaeil insists “The Iraqi people have been attacked all across Iraq – not because they are gay, but because of the sectarian issue.” Oh, well, that’s alright, then…