Thursday, April 09, 2009

Congressman: State Dept Action Needed on Gay Iraqis;

HRC, NGLTF Silence Grows Louder
I'd like a round of bravos for gay US Representative Jared Polis for having concerns about and bringing media attention to the plight of gay Iraqis. This Denver Post story, appearing in today's paper, provides a good overview of his action on behalf of Iraq's gay population, and how he's pushing the State Department to take action.

While Polis is taking the lead on the gay Iraqi situation, and trying to move levers of US power to investigate the deaths of gays in Baghdad, the usual lame gay political groups, Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, steadfastly remain silent about the abuses of our brothers and sisters in Iraq.

Both HRC and NGLTF are working on just one issue - gay wedding cakes. I guess it's asking too much of multimillion homosexual human rights organizations to work on more than a single issue at a given time.

I look forward to hearing more from Polis upon his return to Washington regarding his agenda for helping gay Iraqis. From the Denver Post:

As Rep. Jared Polis toured Iraq this week, he had something more than security conditions or troop withdrawals on his mind: the case of a man allegedly sentenced to death in a criminal court for membership in a gay-rights group.

An openly gay member of Congress, Polis has been investigating the treatment of gays in Iraq for several months, and last week he spoke through a translator by phone to a transgender Iraqi man who said he had been arrested, beaten and raped by Ministry of Interior security forces.

Human-rights groups tracking the issue also passed Polis a letter, allegedly written from jail by a man who said he was beaten into confessing he was a member of the gay-rights group Iraqi-LGBT. The group said the man had been sentenced to death in a court in Karkh and finally executed. ...

Polis carried some of that evidence with him to Iraq and presented State Department officials in Baghdad with a letter outlining the allegations and pressing members of the Iraqi parliament's human-rights committee.

"We will see whether the Iraqi government is serious about protecting the human rights of all Iraqis, and we can also see what role our own State Department can play in helping to protect this minority in Iraq," Polis said by phone Wednesday after leaving Iraq. ...

Polis said the most disturbing aspect of the persecution is that the government itself may be involved.

The Boulder Democrat said that while State Department officials in Washington initially dismissed the claims of Iraqi Interior Ministry involvement, the charge d'affaires in Baghdad has requested more documentation and the chance to speak with witnesses and victims. (State Department officials did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.)

"We have our follow-up work to do in providing the contacts and information that we have to the State Department and, with the permission of those involved, some have agreed to have their information also given to the Iraqi government," Polis said.

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