IRAQI LGBT: SAFE HOUSE CAMPAIGN
Lack of funds may force group to return imperiled gay Iraqis to the streets
Julie Weisberg, The Raw Story
Published: Tuesday October 16, 2007
Iraq’s lesbian, gay and transgendered residents have become an all-too frequent target of that occupied nation’s lawlessness. Now they face the possibility of losing the lone organization that has sought to protect them from violence.
Friends of Iraqi LGBT, an all-volunteer human rights organization currently based in London, runs a series of safe houses in Iraq for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered Iraqis who have been targeted for persecution — including beatings, imprisonment and even death — by militant Shia death squads that roam the war-torn nation’s streets.
Last year, five members of the group were taken into custody by Iraqi police during a raid on Iraqi LGBTs headquarters in Baghdad. So far, only one of the five has been accounted for.
Amjad, 27, was found dead and mutilated in the same area three days later.
Iraqi LGBT was formed early last year after reports of homophobic violence in Iraq spiked. The organization provides financial assistance to LGBT individuals in particularly dangerous areas of Iraq, allowing them to move to relatively safer parts of the country, or seek refuge in neighboring countries.
In all, the group has assisted some 40 gay Iraqi asylum seekers in the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as Sweden, Germany, Canada, Holland, Lithuania, Romania, Turkey, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.
But now Iraqi LGBT’s life-saving work is in jeopardy, as the organization is facing a critical shortage of funding. Ali Hili, the group’s founder and coordinator, spoke to RAW STORY in a recent phone interview from London.
According to Hili, 34, the cost of funding a safe house — which serves 10 to 12 people at a time — is about $1,800 a month: $800 for rent, usually paid three months in advance; $400 for the salaries of two armed guards for each house, an essential part of securing each facility; and $600 per month for gas, fuel for electricity generators, food, clean drinking water and hygienic supplies…
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See also : En Irak, la chasse aux gays est ouverte, Blaise Gauquelin, Rue 89