Thursday, June 11, 2009

State Dept Condemns Violence

Against LGBT People of Iraq

From yesterday's press briefing at the State Department. Speaking on behalf of the department was Ian Kelly:

QUESTION: Iraq if I can. The other week, Muqtada al-Sadr said that the depravity of homosexuality must be eradicated. And while he went on to say that he was not advocating violence, there obviously has been a lot of rather gruesome violence directed at gays and lesbians in Iraq. So I was wondering if State has any reaction to that.

And then off the back of that, is there any extra responsibility that the U.S. feels towards these groups who were, by their accounts, safer and more free to live their lives under Saddam?

MR. KELLY: Well, let me say that, in general, we absolutely condemn acts of violence and human rights violations committed against individuals in Iraq because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is an issue that we’ve been following very closely since we have been made aware of these allegations, and we are aware of the allegations.

Our training for Iraqi security forces includes instruction on the proper observance of human rights. Human rights training is also a very important part of our and other international donors’ civilian capacity-building efforts in Iraq. And the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has raised and will continue to raise the issue with senior officials from the Government of Iraq, and has urged them to respond appropriately to all credible reports of violence against gay and lesbian Iraqis.

Many thanks to the reporter who asked about the torture and murder of LGBT citizens of Iraq. Let's hope the press corps that covers the State Department begin asking questions regularly about foreign gay issues.

And let us also applaud the State Department for _finally_ condemning the violence against our brothers and sisters in Iraq.

Don't forget to read the letter from 45 California lawmakers to President Obama, asking for action to stop the violence against the LGBT people of Iraq. Click here to read the text of the letter.

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