Rep. Jared Polis Demands: Investigate Gay Iraqi Deaths


The Colorado congressman says the murder of gay Iraqis are “egregious human rights violations” and wants U.S. and Iraqi officials to investigate how this could happen. It’s something Queerty‘s been demanding too, but even we’ll admit: Rep. Jared Polis, Congress’ first openly gay member, has more pull with higher ups.

He’s been traveling Iraq this week and “met with the Iraqi Charges D’Affairs, members of the Iraqi Parliament’s Human-Rights Committee, and US State Department officials in Baghdad, and gave them a letter outlining the allegations and urging their immediate investigation. Thus far, the Charge D’Affaires has requested more documentation and the chance to speak with witnesses and victims.” The letter is here (PDF). The results? Forthcoming … we hope.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International is sending a letter to Iraqi president Nouri al-Maliki demanding “urgent and concerted action” to stop the murders — veritably sanctioned by the Iraqi government by failing to satisfactorily investigate the crimes, nor condemn them.

Amnesty said the murders appear to have been carried out by militiamen and relatives of the victims, after being incited by religious leaders. Homosexuality has always been taboo in the country, but a surge of killings followed religious leaders’ sermons condemning “deviancy”.

The violence came after the improved security situation briefly encouraged some gay men to start meeting discreetly in public. This led to furious condemnation from clerics who have called for homosexuality – which can lead to a prison sentence of seven years – to be eradicated from Iraqi society.

Most of the killings have taken place in the Baghdad suburb of Sadr City, controlled by ultra-conservative Shi’ite militia. Murders have also been reported in Basra, Najaf and Karbala.

The bodies of four gay men, each bearing a sign with the Arabic word for “pervert” on their chests, were discovered in Sadr City three weeks ago. Following the discovery of another two corpses six days later, an unnamed official in the city told Reuters: “They were sexual deviants. Their tribes killed them to restore their family honour.”

No arrests have been made. Ali Hili, the London spokesman for Iraqi LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) said it had received reports of at least 63 killings in the last four months. He told The Independent: “Since mid-December we’ve been getting lots of reports about mass arrests and raids on houses, cafes, barbers shops.” He claimed police and the Ministry of the Interior were behind some of the murders.

“Most of the people who are arrested are found dead, with signs of torture and burns. We believe a war has been launched by the Iraqi Government and its establishment against gay people.”