Thursday, August 06, 2009

HRC Owes US Troops An Apology,
Or Evidence of Gay Iraqi Beheading

Almost two weeks ago, the Human Rights Campaign made its facilities available to a gay Iraqi refugee who can't use his real name and goes by "Hussam," for a fundraiser to benefit other refugees. The fundraiser was a joint effort between HRC and the LGBT Bar Association, and was heavily promoted by both groups.

At the July 24 event, the Washington Blade reported, the following happened at HRC's Equality Center:

[Hussam] showed the audience of about 80 people gruesome images, including shots allegedly of a beheaded man who was gay and another of the victim’s twin brother grieving over the severed head.

While asserting that anti-gay violence in Iraq is often committed by Iraqis, Hussam also said U.S. service members were involved in anti-gay hostility. For example, he said service members displayed signs in front of their barracks with the words “Fuck Off Fags.”

But the reaction from the audience turned from anger to shock when Hussam said U.S. service members had detained Iraqi civilians perceived to be gay and executed them.

Since the allegations of violations of many military and international conventions by USA troops against gay Iraqis were made under the auspices of HRC and the LGBT Bar Association, the Army has opened an investigation into the matter and is trying to determine if the photos, and what they depict, is genuine.

I don't know if the allegations by Hussam are true, and they may very well be, but he has yet to convince any respectable independent body of his claims, and has clammed up. Essentially, I believe he slimed US troops, can't prove his allegations and his DC hosts, HRC and the gay lawyers, are praying the whole hoopla quickly passes without too much stain of culpability left on their reputations.

An HRC spokesman told the Blade his group is still investigating the matter. Um, that's nice, but not nearly enough accountability from HRC over this controversy.

I've made calls and sent emails to HRC leaders, including honcho Joe Solmonese, posing a few questions:

Does HRC know how to get answers out of Hussam? Who exactly at HRC vetted his presentation beforehand? What precisely is HRC doing to verify the claims made at HRC's auditorium? Will Hussam's claims, and HRC link to him, help gay Iraqis, US troops, gays in the military?

I'm still waiting for a reply, and as we all wait for the Army investigation to produce some hard facts, sorely missing from Hussam and HRC, I just want to publicly state how troubled I am that our leading political organization is being so uncooperative in terms of getting at the truth.

If HRC can't produce evidence to back up outrageous claims against US troops made on their HQ, can't answer a few simple questions on the controversy, nearly two weeks later, then I believe they must issue a full and explicit apology to our troops. Would also like to see them apologize to the LGBT community for their woeful lack of vetting of Hussam before endorsing his efforts, and making their Equality Center available to him to make his unsubstantiated allegations.

The silence from HRC and the LGBT Bar Association should be unacceptable to anyone who thinks the gay community deserves responsible leadership.

1 comment:

Clinton Fein said...

This is the most disturbing thing I've read in a long time. While the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy is inherently homophobic, and incidents of anti-gay violence in the military are well documented, the allegations are so serious that both outcomes are horrifying.

Either there is evidence that supports the allegations, which would be an awful reflection on the US military, or a lack of evidence which would reflect awfully on the HRC and LGBT Bar Association.

Where is the image that supposedly depicts a soldier/s with chained, nude Iraqis that was presented at the event?