Sunday, April 12, 2009

Denver Post: Gay Iraqi Killings Shouldn't be Ignored;


After reading this excellent editorial in today's Denver Post, two thoughts came immediately to mind.

First, we need to save daily corporate newspapers such as the Denver Post and the New York Times, two papers that devoted staff time and resources, and column inches, to the plight of gay Iraqis and the death threats they suffer from lots of forces. Unlike the Human Rights Campaign, the Human Rights Watch, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Denver Post and NY Times are not silent about the murders of gay Iraqis.

Second, if either paper wants to offer memberships to gay advocates who appreciate and support their advocacy on behalf of gays around the globe, I'd like to be among the first to sign up.

This forceful editorial puts HRC, HRW, IGLHRC and NGLTF to shame. The headline alone should cause much embarrassment at those organizations, and their ability to ignore the gay blood flowing in the streets of Baghdad. Here we have the corporate media doing a better advocacy job than our own gay advocates, calling on the State Department to investigate the gay murders.

Thank you very much, Congressman Polis and the editorial writer responsible for this editorial at the Denver Post, for raising your voices on behalf of gay Iraqis. Here are excerpts from the editorial:

Killing of Gay Iraqis Shouldn't be Ignored

The U.S. State Department must not stand idly by if the Iraqi government fails to protect basic human rights, even if the persecution stems from traditional cultural or religious beliefs.

We applaud Colorado Congressman Jared Polis for his efforts last week to shine the spotlight on the killings of homosexuals in Iraq, and to press the State Department to demand accountability from the Iraqi government. ...

His research led to the discovery of a transgender Iraqi man who told the congressman he had been arrested, beaten and raped by security forces with Iraq's Ministry of Interior.

Human-rights groups have passed information to Polis that claims another man was beaten into confessing he belonged to a gay-rights group and that the man had been sentenced to execution by an Iraqi court.

Polis, who toured Iraq last week, passed along a letter outlining his grim findings to State Department officials in Baghdad. He told Riley: "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." ...

In the past two months, at least 25 men and boys were killed, usually by multiple gunshots, their bodies often left with signs in Arabic that declared: "pervert."

Meanwhile, Iraqis are murdered for many reasons, greatly complicating the situation on the ground. It's hard to imagine the country will have much stability or peace if it can't quell such things as religious killings and the so-called "honor killings" of women who may have had extramarital relations. ...

But because of his position as an openly gay Democratic representative serving while his party controls Washington, Polis has a unique opportunity to press the issue. We hope he continues to encourage the State Department to act, and continues to talk about these issues often relegated to the shadows.

We realize our nation has its own issues to worry about when it comes to treatment of gays and lesbians. But we've lost and risked far too many of our troops to help establish and protect Iraq's new government to stand by and watch Iraqis, especially if their government is involved, murder their own in blatant defiance of basic human rights.

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