Thursday, May 21, 2009

Global Equality Still Waiting

for State Dept Reply on Gay Iraqis

The Human Rights Campaign on April 23 reported on its advocacy, in conjunction with the Council for Global Equality, on behalf of LGBT Iraqis:
The Council for Global Equality, of which HRC is a member organization, has been in communication with the State Department in Washington, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, calling on them to investigate this critical situation and to intervene with the Iraqi government.
A few days later, I contacted the executive director of Global Equality, Mark Bromley, to gather details about his communications with the State Department, which, were only verbal. Bromley relayed in emails that he had not written any letters to the department about the torture and murder of gay Iraqis, but that he soon would:
I will try to start writing and posting more once State has a little more time to reply. I do think they are trying to find an appropriate response, so I want to give them some room to maneuver – but not too much. I will try to push with more than phone calls in the coming weeks.
This week, I followed up with Bromley, and his colleague Julie Dorf, and received these replies. From Bromley:
Sorry, Michael, I was out of the country all last week. Based on further phone conversations, we have reason to believe that the State Department is following up on our request to investigate. Will continue to follow this now that I’m back in Washington.
Yes, it's good to know Global Equality is still in verbal communication with the department, but I find it quite strange, given all the horrors suffered by LGBT Iraqis and reported by the press and NGOs, that the group has yet to write a single letter to State about it all. No, phone calls are not enough, given the severity of the torture and killing of Iraqi gays. And note that Bromley says he believes the department is following up on their push to investigate, because of phone talks.

Interestingly, Dorf, in her email to me, says they're waiting for a reply:
Yes, Mark has been traveling and is just getting back today. Sorry for the delay. We don't really have much to say yet about State's response to our requests for further investigation into the abuses in Iraq. We are still waiting to hear back from them. Sorry there isn't more to report yet.
Let's give Bromley and Dorf the benefit of the doubt, and trust that the hadn't checked in with each other about a response from the department, before they separately wrote to me.

I'm also curious if their communications with our embassy in Baghdad, as reported by HRC, were just verbal, and what, if any, reply they've received from the embassy.

Hoping to find anything on their web site about LGBT Iraqis and Global Equality's phone calls to State, I checked their site and found nothing related to the gay Iraqi problems.

However, I learned that Bromley was at a world congress on human rights in Paris recently, something Bromley and Dorf omitted in their emails, giving me reason to think they're not very forthcoming with basic info. They seem dedicated to keeping info close to their vests, rather than just saying Bromley was at a human rights conference in Paris.

By the way, the Global Equality site hosts a PDF of remarks made by the State Department's Atul Keshap, director of the Office of Human Rights, Humanitarian and Social Affairs, at the Paris meeting.

Nice of Global Equality to promote the State Department official's comments on the UN LGBT declaration and related matters, but I think the group needs to be much more assertive about showing some tangible proof their oral communications with the department are moving State to investigate anti-gay human rights abuses in Iraq.

Frankly, as we're about to enter the third month of reports about the current atrocities being suffered by LGBT persons in Iraq, I think Global Equality ought to finally write a letter to the State Department, post the text on their site, and tell us what they're doing to move the department to respond.

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