Chicago: Protest Focuses on Obama’s Failure to Denounce Rampant Anti-Gay Violence in Iraq
For Immediate Release: May 10, 2009
For Information: Roger Fraser, Gay Liberation Network, 847.946.8035, email@example.com
Bob Schwartz, Gay Liberation Network, 773.878.3697, firstname.lastname@example.org
May 17th is commemorated around the world as International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), a day on which LGBT people and our allies focus attention on the problems of anti-gay hate, discrimination and violence.
This year in Chicago, the Gay Liberation Network (GLN) is organizing the city’s IDAHO event as a protest against the Obama administration’s continuing silence about rampant anti-gay violence in U.S.-occupied Iraq. The protest will take place at 2 PM, Sunday, May 17th outside of the Obamas’ Chicago residence at the corner of Hyde Park Boulevard (5100 S.) and Greenwood (1100 E.).
Over the past month, several news outlets have reported an escalating, officially sanctioned campaign to torture and execute gays in Iraq, promoted both by Shi’ite clerics and by the Shi’ite-dominated government which is closely allied with the United States.
As the New York Times reported April 7, “In the past two months, the bodies of as many as 25 boys and men suspected of being gay have turned up in the huge [Baghdad] Shiite enclave of Sadr City, the police and friends of the dead say. Most have been shot, some multiple times. Several have been found with the word ‘pervert’ in Arabic on notes attached to their bodies, the police said.” And as the Huffington Post reported May 3rd, “According to Iraqis and human rights workers interviewed for this post, some sort of understanding was reached between the Iraqi government and the Mahdi Army to ‘cleanse’ Iraq of homosexuals.”
Tortures committed reportedly include gluing the anuses of gay men shut, and then force-feeding them diarrhea-inducing medications which cause agonizing pain followed by death.
Back in 2005, the country’s leading Shi’ite cleric said that gays and lesbians should be “punished, in fact, killed” and that “the people should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing.” After some protests this language was removed from the cleric’s website, and the anti-gay campaign appeared to subside.
However, over the past month, the campaign in Iraq to murder gays has ramped up again as “Sadr City’s Muslim clerics have reportedly urged the faithful to destroy homosexuality Iraqi society and police have undertaken an effort to arrest and jail gay men,” said United Press International.
Iraqi LGBT, the main support group for gays in Iraq, as well as for those trying to flee, reports that some of the few hundred prisoners awaiting execution by the Iraqi government are facing execution because of the “crime” of homosexuality. Despite these human rights violations by a close U.S. ally, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made no public protest about this situation during a visit to Baghdad two weeks ago.
“Over the past two weeks there have been protests in New York and San Francisco which got quite a bit of press about this situation, despite the small size of the protests,” said GLN’s Bob Schwartz. “We in Chicago are uniquely positioned to add even more pressure. When we hold our IDAHO event outside Obama’s residence in Hyde Park, we can help force his administration to take a stand it should have taken weeks ago and finally speak out about these human rights violations by a close U.S. ally.”
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