Thursday, June 11, 2009

45 CA Lawmakers Write To Obama:

Stop Torture of Gay Iraqis

(Mark Leno speaking with transgender advocate Theresa Sparks at the May 17 rally at Harvey Milk Plaza for LGBT people of Iraq. Photo credit: Bill Wilson Photography.)

Without being asked, my friend Mark Leno, the openly gay state senator representing San Francisco, took it upon himself to draft a letter to the President, the Secretary of State, and our Congressional delegation, asking them to exert pressure on the Iraqi government to stop the torture and murder of LGBT citizens of Iraq.

Leno's office contacted me today to say 45 California lawmakers signed the letter to our federal leaders, which was sent last week to Washington.

On behalf of Gays Without Borders/SF, I extend a big expression of gratitude to Leno, his staff, and all of the politicians who signed this letter.

And don't forget that on Friday, June 19, starting at 9 pm, there will be a fundraiser at Cafe Flore. We need to keep soliciting funds for the basic needs of LGBT refugees from Iraq, and all funds raised go toward that purpose.

Can't make it to the June 19 event, but want to help the gay refugees? Then please click here and go to the Rainbow World Fund site to make a tax-deductible donation today.

Many thanks to all the San Francisco LGBT people, and our allies, who are opening their hearts, and their wallets, to help the gay refugees.

Here's the text of the letter, along with the names of the 45 lawmakers:

June 2, 2009

The Honorable Barack Obama
The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
The Honorable Barbara Boxer

Dear President Obama, Madame Secretary, Speaker Pelosi, Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer:

We are writing to urge you to call upon the government of Iraq to prevent the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, and to protect the right of all Iraqi citizens to be free from all forms of cruel, inhumane or degrading punishment.

Deeply disturbing reports are emanating from Iraq with regard to the torture, beating and killing of LGBT people in that country. The increasing violence is being led by religious zealots who are targeting these individuals simply because of their sexual orientation. This year alone, 63 people have been tortured or killed as a result of religious decrees against gay citizens. A prominent Iraqi human rights activist has reported that Iraqi militia have deployed painful and degrading forms of torture and punishment against homosexuals that must be stopped.

The United States is spending trillions of dollars to fight a war that is based on bringing freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people. These unspeakable actions of violence on Iraqi citizens are in direct violation of our purpose for being in that country and of the stated policy of non-discrimination of the new administration.

Local police in Iraq have issued a statement that, "the extra-judicial killing of any citizen is a crime punishable by law. No one has the right to become a substitute for judicial authorities or executive authorities, and if there are complaints against individuals, there is law and there are police and there are government agencies. No group or class has the authority to punish people instead of the state." The violence occurring against LGBT Iraqis is in direct contradiction to this statement.

As one of the signatories to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Iraqi government has an obligation to protect the right to life (Article 6) and the right of all its citizens "to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment" (Article 7). Current actions belie this obligation.

To protect the lives of LGBT Iraqis, we urge you to please take immediate action to stop the violence. We believe that a strong public condemnation of these actions must come from you and our other national leaders, along with the necessary pressure on the Iraqi government to protect the life and liberty of all its citizens.


1. MARK LENO, Senator 3rd SD
2. TOM AMMIANO, Assemblyman 13th AD
3. CHRISTINE KEHOE, Senator 39th SD
4. JOHN A. PÉREZ, Assemblyman 46th
5. JIM BEALL, Jr., Assemblyman 24th AD
6. JULIA BROWNLEY, Assemblywoman 41ST
7. SANDRÉ R. SWANSON, Assemblyman 16th AD
8. TOM TORLAKSON, Assemblyman 11th
9. MARTY BLOCK, Assemblyman 78th AD
10. MARIKO YAMADA, Assemblywoman 8th
11. PEDRO NAVA, Assemblyman 35th AD
12. ANTHONY PORTANTINO, Assemblyman 44th
13. JERRY HILL, Assemblyman 19th AD
14. HECTOR DE LA TORRE, Assemblyman 50th AD
15. MIKE FEUER, Assemblyman 42nd AD
16. FELIPE FUENTES, Assemblyman 39th AD
17. CATHLEEN GALGIANI, Assemblywoman 17th AD
18. CURREN D. PRICE Jr., Assemblyman 51st AD
19. NORMA J. TORRES, Assemblywoman 61st AD
20. JOSEPH S. SIMITIAN, Senator 11th SD
21. ELAINE ALQUIST, Senator 13th SD
22. ALAN LOWENTHAL, Senator 27th SD
23. LELAND YEE, Senator 8th SD
24. GILBERT CEDILLO, Senator 22nd SD
25. JENNY OROPEZA, Senator 28th SD
26. GLORIA ROMERO, Senator 24th SD
28. LOU CORREA, Senator 34th SD
29. LONI HANCOCK, Senator 9th SD
30. LOIS WOLK, Senator 5th SD
31. PATRICIA WIGGINS, Senator 2nd SD
32. ELLEN CORBETT, Senator 10th SD
33. CAROL LIU, Senator 21st SD
34. FRAN PAVLEY, Senator 23rd SD
35. BONNIE LOWENTHAL, Assemblywoman 54th AD
36. WILLIAM W. MONNING, Assemblyman 27th AD
37. ISADORE HALL III, Assemblyman 52nd AD
38. MARY SALAS, Assemblywoman 79th AD
39. MIKE DAVIS, Assemblyman 48th AD
40. PAUL FONG, Assemblyman 22nd AD
41. WARREN T. FURUTANI, Assemblyman 55th AD
42. JARED HUFFMAN, Assemblyman 6th AD
43. BOB BLUMENFIELD, Assemblyman 40th AD
44. ALEX PADILLA, Senator 20th SD
45. PAUL KREKORIAN, Assemblyman 43rd AD

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