Monday, December 19, 2011

Op-ed: The Legacy of the Bush War on Gay Iraqis

via Advocate, by Melanie Nathan, op-ed contributor

With the lowering of the American flag, finally off Iraqi soil as it returns home to the United States, and the ecstatic familial greetings of soldiers returned, the Bush Iraq War is over.

It may always be regretted by LGBT  Iraqis. They have suffered alongside all Iraqis, not only as a result of the vanquished Saddam Hussein regime, nor only collaterally from American bombing that comes with the brutal nuances of that particular war, but also because of adversity imposed by being “outed” by militias, and because of brutality by religious fanaticism that has taken hold of post-Saddam Iraq.

While none will debate the imperative demise of Hussein, many Iraqi gays may well have preferred that brutal reign to what they have since faced.

With the war, quiet non-disclosure and occasional homophobic targeting gave way to a voracious endeavor by lawless militias, and they unleashed violence against gays in unprecedented fashion.

Trillions of dollars, blood, limbs and lives are all part of the mayhem that provides the context for this added persecution.

Gay Iraqis had to run, and they are still running. One estimate cited by Gay Middle East says that more than 700 LGBT people have been killed since the U.S. led invasion, with thousands more suffering violence, discrimination and abuse on a daily basis.

Dan Littauer, executive editor of Gay Middle East, told me, "While under the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein’s secular Ba’ath party, LGBTI people lived under an unwritten rule akin to a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy, but in post-Saddam Iraq, this has become nearly impossible.”

LGBT Iraqis fled in multitudes to Syria, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and other countries, now only to be caught up in local revolutions that have caused them further risk and at times violence.

Read the rest

Iraq's unwanted people from Gay Middle East on Vimeo.

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