A whole new perspective

Posted on 17 Aug 2009 at 2:30pm

Go down to the Cedar Springs strip and ask a few people what issue they think should be at the top of the gay rights agenda. You’ll get a variety of answers, like same-sex marriage rights, protection against discrimination in employment, the right to serve openly in the U.S. military, or the right to adopt children.

Go to any city in Iraq and ask the same question and, if you could find anyone willing to answer, they would be more likely to say the right to not be murdered in the streets for being gay. In fact, you might get yourself killed just for daring to ask such a question.

Attacks on LGBT people in Iraq have been in the headlines for some time now — ever since G.W. sent our military over there to liberate the country from Saddam Hussein. But such attacks are getting even more attention today since the publication yesterday of a report by Human Rights Watch. (Read a BBC article on the HWR report here.)

According to the report, hundreds of gay men have likely been targeted and murdered, since 2004, in what appears to be a coordinated campaign by militias, with the Mehdi Army militia spearheading the campaign and even the police joining in, even though homosexuality is not illegal there. Plus, there are the so-called honour killings carried out by families intent on punishing their own kin in order to avoid public shame.

According to witnesses, vigilante groups break into people’s homes, hauling off those suspected of being gay and interrogating (another word for torturing) them to get them to give up the names of other gays before killing them, then often mutilating the bodies and leaving them on trash piles. And the names of “suspected” gay men and their addresses are often posted on flyers around the cities

I am not saying that we here in this country shouldn’t continue our fight for civil rights. We most certainly do deserve equality, both socially and legally, and we won’t get that if we don’t fight for it.

But as we continue the fight here in our country for the right to legally wed our partners, to adopt children, to serve in the military, to work in discrimination-free workplaces and so on, let’s not forget that our LGBT brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are fighting, quite literally, for their very lives.

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