On January 2nd, it was revealed that the Iraqi Government is considering releasing 5000 prisoners from its jails in a move toward amnesty but has explicitly excluded homosexuals from any possibility of such release.
Earlier in 2007, it was revealed that death squads, possibly with the sanctioning of elements of the government of Iraq, were targeting gay men and women and believed to be killing them.
In June of 2007, the United States military acknowledged that it was aware of the actions being taken against gay Iraqi people by other Iraqis.
I would like to highlight the following paragraph in the last mentioned article:
“It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, when we’re in a fledgling time like this, to go in and say, ‘Here’s these issues that are going to repel 80 percent of the population and this is what we want to inflict on you,'” he said. “We’re trying not to get into too many values judgment type issues and just do the right thing.”
–Army Maj. Joseph Todd Breasseale, chief of the Media Relations Division of the Multinational Corps in Iraq
Given the reporting and the known facts, I would like to make the following points and appeals:
1. This is not an anti-U.S. military diary. In making this post, I am hewing strictly to the acknowledged and reported facts and am going to stay away from any and all speculation, except the widely reported involvement in elements of the Iraqi government in terms of imprisoning and almost certainly sanctioning killing some of its gay population.
2. More than a year has passed since the anti gay activity was known and reported about.
I call on the U.S. government to do the following in as expedient a matter as possible:
Because the discrimination against gay people (particularly firing gay Arabic translators) by the military in accordance to U.S. government policy sets an example to occupied Iraq that punishing gay people for being gay is acceptable even by Americans, I call upon the U.S. Congress to urgently reconsider the wisdom of the DADT policy in light of these facts and the example the DADT policy sets. In addition to all the other evidence that DADT is unwise and unproductive, it is also imperative for our country to reexamine the message it sends to countries we are involved with around the world. Although I believe we shouldn’t be in Iraq and should end our occupation there, the fact is we are there, and while there we have a responsibility to the people there.
I call upon President Bush to publically decry the killing of gay Iraqis by other Iraqis in anti-gay pogroms and demand that the Iraqi government immediately desist any active or tacit support of these actions, and that he demand the Iraqi government not segregate prisoners to be released based on their sexuality.
I ask for the U.S. media, particularly the major broadcast networks, to inform Americans and end the virtual news blackout regarding the treatment of gay people in Iraq.
Also, the U.S. Congress must consider immediately the small number of Iraqis granted asylum in the U.S. and set a policy whereby any law abiding gay Iraqi fleeing that country should be granted asylum based on presumption of persecution should they return to that country. Gay Iraqis wishing to flee Iraq and come to America should be processed on an expedited basis.
The U.S. government and U.S. military and all Americans need to loudly decry in no uncertain terms any policy by the Iraqi government whereby the release of prisoners from Iraqi jails would be contingent on that person’s sexuality.
Needless to say, I am not stupid and do not consider it likely that any of these bullet points will be heeded.
In June, the Democratic Party will annoint its candidate for the next President of the United States. Because of the inaction and reckless disregard of the Bush administration toward many injustices and problems in the world, it is unlikely the administration will do anything about this and many other problems during the time it has left in office. Due to the long period of time the candidates for President will be decided before the 2008 elections, there is much they can do to pressure the administration to do the right thing. President Bush has spoken about bringing democracy to Iraq, and having the Iraqi government sanction anti-gay death squads and refuse to issue amnesty to gay people simply because they’re gay is certainly not indicative of democracy there.
I also call upon all of the candidates for President, Democratic and Republican, to use this problem as an opportunity to show moral leadership by raising the profile of this issue. As far as Republicans are concerned, whether one does or does not approve of gay people personally, killing them and keeping them in prison doesn’t come to mind as something Republicans should approve of.
However, as a Democrat I believe it is a unique opportunity for all of our Democratic candidates to showcase their belief in change and justice by addressing this issue publically.
In addition I ask all my fellow Americans to ask the candidates for President questions about these events and their position regarding them at every available opportunity.