Archive for the ‘Gaynocide’ Category

Sexual cleansing in Iraq

Islamist death squads are hunting down gay Iraqis and summarily executing them

WATCH the video link below – and weep:

By Peter Tatchell
London & Baghdad – 25 September 2008

STOP PRESS: This morning, news came from Iraq that the coordinator of Iraqi LGBT in Baghdad, Bashar, aged 27, has been assassinated in a barber shop. Militias burst in and sprayed his body with bullets.
The so-called improved security situation in Iraq is not benefiting all Iraqis, especially not gay ones. Islamist death squads are engaged in a homophobic killing spree, with the active encouragement of leading Muslim clerics, such as Moqtada al-Sadr, as Newsweek recently revealed.
http://www.newsweek.com/id/155656
One of these clerics, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of Shia Islam, issued a fatwa urging the killing of lesbians and gays in the “worst, most severe way possible.”
http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=18202189&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8
The short film, Queer Fear – Gay Life, Gay Death in Iraq, produced by David Grey for Village Film, documents the tragic fates of a several individual gay Iraqis.

You can view it here:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6vbpr

Watch and weep. A truly poignant and moving revelation about the terrorisation and murder of Iraqi lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Since this film was made, the killings have continued and, many say, got worse.
http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/07/24/gay.iraqis/index.html
For gay Iraqis there is little evidence of the transition to democracy. They don’t experience any new-found respect human rights. Life for them is even worse than under the tyrant Saddam Hussein.
It is a death sentence in today’s “liberated” Iraq to love a person of the same-sex, or for a woman to have sex outside of marriage, or for a Muslim to give up his / her faith or embrace another religion.
The reality on the ground is that theocracy is taking hold of the country, including in Basra, which was abandoned by the British military. In place of foreign occupation, the city’s inhabitants now endure the terror of fundamentalist militias and death squads. Those who are deemed insufficiently devout and pure are liable to be assassinated.
The death squads of the Badr Brigades and the Madhi Army are targeting gays and lesbians, according to UN reports, in a systematic campaign of sexual cleansing. They proudly boast of their success, claiming that they have already exterminated all “perverts and sodomites” in many of the major cities.
http://articles.latimes.com/2007/aug/05/world/fg-iraqgay5
http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=17008100&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8
http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=17008200&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8
http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=18605093&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8
You can view photos of a few of the LGBT victims of these summary executions here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157600042494571/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72057594087304767/
My friends in Iraq have relayed to me the tragic story of five gay activists, who belonged to the underground movement gay rights movement, Iraqi LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender).
Eye-witnesses confirm that they saw the men being led out of a house at gun-point by officers in police uniform. Yes, Iraqi police! Nothing has been heard of the five victims since then. In all probability, they have been executed by the police – or by Islamist death squads who have infiltrated the Iraqi police and who are using their uniforms to carry out so-called honour killings of gay people, unchaste women and many others.
The arrested and disappeared men were Amjad 27, Rafid 29, Hassan 24, Ayman 19 and Ali 21. As members of Iraq’s covert gay rights movement, for the previous few months they had been documenting the killing of lesbians and gays, relaying details of the murders to the outside world, and providing safe houses and support to other gay people fleeing the death squads.
Their abduction is just one of many outrages by anti-gay death squads. lslamist killers burst into the home of two lesbians in city of Najaf. They shot them dead, slashed their throats, and also murdered a young child who the women had rescued from the sex trade. The two women, both in their mid-30s, were members of Iraqi LGBT. They were providing a safe house for gay men on the run from death squads. By sheer luck, none of the men who were being given shelter in the house were at home when the assassins struck. They have since fled to Baghdad and are hiding in an Iraqi LGBT safe house there.
Large parts of Iraq are now under the de facto control of the militias and their death squad units. They enforce a harsh interpretation of Sharia law, summarily executing people for what they denounce as “crimes against Islam.” These “crimes” include listening to western pop music, wearing shorts or jeans, drinking alcohol, selling videos, working in a barber’s shop, homosexuality, dancing, having a Sunni name, adultery and, in the case of women, not being veiled or walking in the street unaccompanied by a male relative.
Two militias are doing most of the killing. They are the armed wings of major parties in the Bush and Brown-backed Iraqi government. Madhi is the militia of Muqtada al-Sadr, and Badr is the militia of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which is the leading political force in Baghdad’s governing coalition. Both militias want to establish an Iranian-style religious dictatorship. The allied occupation of Iraq is bad enough. But if the Madhi or Badr militias gain in influence and strength, as seems likely in the long-term, it could result in a reign of religious terror many times worse.
Saddam Hussein was a bloody tyrant. I campaigned against his blood-stained misrule for nearly 30 years. But while Saddam was President, there was certainly no danger of gay people being assassinated in their homes and in the street by religious fanatics.
http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=17008362&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8
Since his overthrow, the violent persecution of lesbians and gays is much worse.
http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/2007/08/for-gays-in-iraq-life-of-constant-fear.html
Even children suspected of being gay are abducted and later found shot in the head.
http://gaycitynews.com/site/index.cfm?newsid=17008362&BRD=2729&PAG=461&dept_id=568864&rfi=8
Lesbian and gay Iraqis cannot seek the protection of the police, since the police are heavily infiltrated by fundamentalists, especially the Badr militia. The death squads can kill with impunity. Pro-fundamentalist ministers in the Iraqi government are turning a blind eye to the killings, and helping to protect the killers. Some “liberation”.

* Iraqi LGBT is appealing for funds to help the work of their members in Iraq. Since they don’t yet have a bank account, they request that cheques should be made payable to “OutRage!”, with a cover note marked “For Iraqi LGBT”, and sent to OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT.
More information on Iraqi LGBT or to make a donation by PayPal:
http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/

Peter Tatchell is the Green Party parliamentary candidate for Oxford East
www.greenoxford.com/peter and www.petertatchell.net

See also: UK: Queer Fear 2 – The Sexual Cleansing of Iraq – Film Screening November 3rd 2008

GAY HOMELAND FOUNDATION

19 July 2008

Vigil commemorating Gay and Lesbian victims of Iran’s Ayatollah regime for 19 July 2008 in Cologne, Germany

The Gay Homeland Foundation, an organization dedicated to furtherance of a Gay national movement and cultural progress of the Gay-Lesbian community, and baraka, an international self-organization group of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual immigrants in Cologne, have for the second time organized a political demonstration commemorating all Gay and Lesbian victims of the Ayatollah regime in Iran in Cologne on 19 July 2008. The action started at 17:30 with a talk on the human rights situation of Gays and Lesbians in Iran, presented by Dr. Viktor Zimmermann, and continued with a vigil at the “Memorial for Lesbian and Gay victims of National Socialism” in Cologne at 19:30. Jacek Marjanski from baraka, and Ensi, an Iranian Lesbian refugee from Iran, read the common statement in German and Farsi.

RUBICON, Cologne’s counseling center for Gays and Lesbians, also supported the event.

19 July 2008 is the anniversary of the 2005 execution of two homosexual teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, who were believed to be lovers and were denounced to the police by a family member.

Authorities later distributed official information suggesting that the two teenagers were executed because of a rape of a 13-year old boy. In Iran, such accusations are routinely applied against homosexuals to justify a death sentence, since the regular proof by four witnesses (as prescribed by Sharia) can not be realistically supplied.

Gay Homeland Foundation greatly appreciates the accurate research performed by Simon Forbes from the British group Outrage!. The two executed teenagers will always remind us of the fate of many of
our brothers and sisters in Iran who were tortured and murdered by the Ayatollah regime and its death squads.

In today’s Iran, Gays and Lesbians still suffer the worst oppression and live in daily fear of denunciation. The country’s harsh Islamic regime has declared a downright war against homosexuals, reminiscent of ethnic cleansing in its perfidy: Specially trained agents routinely entrap Gay men in internet forums. In this atmosphere of constant fear, many commit suicide or undergo unnecessary sex-change operations.

The Gay Homeland Foundation (GHF) appeals to the international community to cease deporting Gay and Lesbian asylum-seekers to persecuting countries, and to consider instead the establishment of a self-administered territory for the Gay and Lesbian people.

CONTACT INFORMATION:

The Gay Homeland Foundation is an organization dedicated to furtherance of a Gay national movement and cultural progress of the Gay-Lesbian community; the administrative center is located in Cologne, Germany. The Foundation is actively investigating the possibilities for establishment of self-administered GLBT settlements and organizing the LGBT community in a sovereign political entity.

For additional background material, please visit:

http://gayhomeland.org/

INTERNATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

IGLHRC Condemns Statements by Gambian President – Calls for Decriminalization of Homosexuality

New York, May 22, 2008
In a strongly worded letter to Gambian President Yahyeh Jammeh, Paula Ettelbrick, Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) condemned statements by the West African leader ordering homosexuals out of the country, threatening hotel owners who rented rooms to gay and lesbian people, and threatening summary executions. Ettelbrick also called for the repeal of Gambia’s antiquated sodomy law, inherited from its days as British colony. (See below for the full text of the letter.)

A former army lieutenant, Jammeh overthrew the democratically elected government of the Gambia in 1994, while the Gambian President was on a visiting U.S. warship. Since 1994 there have been many well-documented examples of human rights violations in Gambia perpetrated against journalists, human rights defenders and members of the political opposition. These have included arbitrary arrests and detentions, expulsions and extra-judicial executions. In 2007 President Jammeh announced that he had developed a “miracle cure” for HIV/AIDS.

In February 2008, a number of Senegalese gay men were forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in nearby countries, including the Gambia, as a result of a campaign of persecution of lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgender people that included arbitrary arrests, violence by mobs, and media attacks.

IGLHRC will be inviting other groups and individuals to take action against homophobic statements by the Gambian head-of-state in the next few days.
===============================

23 May 2008

President Yayeh Jammeh
Private Mail Bag
State House,
Banjul, The Gambia

Your Excellency:

I write on behalf of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) to express our concern and outrage over reports that you have given gay men and lesbians twenty-four hours to leave the Gambia, or face “serious consequences”. Reports in the Daily Observer indicate that you have warned landlords, hotel owners and others who might rent dwellings to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people that they must expel gay men and lesbians from their dwellings.

President Jammeh, your statements are in direct violation of your country’s own Constitution and compromise Gambia’s adherence to several international and regional human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Social, Economic and Cultural Rights, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Gambian Constitution states that “every person shall have the right to liberty and security of the person.” The African Charter, in Article 2 states that “every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.”

Your statements tell the people of Gambia that it is acceptable to turn away its neighbors who are need. Article 12 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights, of which your country is a signatory, states that, “every individual shall have the right, when persecuted, to seek and obtain asylum in other countries in accordance with laws of those countries and international conventions.” Any gay or lesbian person, be they a Gambian national or a refugee from a neighboring country, has the right to the protection of the Gambian government, not its enmity. By threatening hotel owners who rent rooms to LGBT people, you are further denying individuals the rights to housing and security and ordering business owners to discriminate based on their fear of government reprisal.

You were also quoted, President Jammeh, to have threatened “to cut off the head” of any homosexual caught in the Gambia. The ICCPR and the African Charter condemn extra-judicial executions and political killings. The Yogyakarta Principles, signed by several prominent African jurists, have made clear that “everyone has the right to life” and that “no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of life, including by reference to considerations of sexual orientation or gender identity.” Your threats are creating an environment of fear and persecution in your country.

Gambia hosts the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights and several key human rights non-governmental organizations. As such, you have a special responsibility to move above your personal moral or religious beliefs and recognize that while viewpoints on homosexuality may differ in the Gambia, your country is committed to a human rights regime that includes the basic human rights of all minorities. Intolerance and hatred are distinctly unspiritual values denounced by the Bible, the Koran, and all other major religious texts.

President Jammeh, we ask that you immediately retract your statements and make clear to the Gambian public that violence against any segment of the population will not be tolerated. We will be vigilantly monitoring the human rights situation in the Gambia, with particular focus on the treatment of LGBT Gambians, to ensure that your statements do not escalate levels of violence. Thousands of visitors come to your country each year from Africa, Europe and North America and experience the warm and open hospitality of the Gambian people. Our belief is that the Gambian people are accepting and tolerant of differences, be they linguistic, ethnic or sexual.

Furthermore, we ask that you begin the process of repealing Article 144 of the Criminal Code of 1965, which calls for the imprisonment of people convicted of consensual homosexual acts for up to 14 years. This law, inherited from the British penal code, is no longer acceptable in a modern society, respectful of human rights and values.

Blaming sexual minorities for the problems of the country is a strategy that has been tried in other countries. Gay and lesbian people are not your problem or your enemy. They are your sons and daughters, the teachers of your children, the pastors of your churches, the leaders of your mosques, the seller of tomatoes in the market. We are everywhere, making contributions everyday to the development of our countries.

Gambian authorities must respect and protect the human rights of all those living within the country’s borders, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.

We look forward to your rapid response.

Yours sincerely,

Paula Ettelbrick Executive Director
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)

Gay refugees face prejudice across the world
http://www.pinknews.co.uk/news/view.php?id=7403

15th April 2008 18:20
Adam Lake

Biplob Hossain, a gay refugee from Bangladesh who is seeking asylum in Australia, and Joaquin Ramirez, facing deportation to El Salvador, have highlighted the plight of gay men who flee their countries to escape persecution.

Mr Hossain, 25, moved to Australia on a student visa when he was 19.

He applied for asylum on the basis that he would suffer persecution in Bangladesh. He was placed in a detention centre for 29 months.

After three rejections by the Refugee Review Tribunal and a failed High Court bid, Mr Hossain is hoping for a personal intervention from the Minister for Immigration, Senator Chris Evans.

He was released from Villawood Detention Centre in October 2006, but is not allowed to work or collect social security benefits.

Sandi Logan, a spokesperson for the Immigration Department, told Australian SX News:

“A person’s sexual orientation does not of itself enable that person to be granted asylum.”

“We provide protection for asylum seekers under the UN definition of a refugee, under the Convention 67 protocol, which doesn’t include their sexual orientation or their fears of persecution associated with that orientation.”

Bangladeshi law states that gay sex acts are illegal and will be punished with deportation, fines and life imprisonment.

The national law itself is rarely directly enforced however there have been numerous reports of incidents of vigilantism.

People suspected of homosexuality have also been sentenced to death by a fatwa.

Meanwhile, in Canada, a gay man is facing deportation to his native El Salvador where he claims that three police officers who raped him are now out to kill him.

Joaquin Ramirez, a 39-year-old HIV-positive man said the accused perpetrators have visited his family and threatened to kill him because he infected them with the HIV virus.

Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board doubted Mr Ramirez’s claims, asking why he did not seek legal support in his own country when the incident occurred.

Mr Ramirez told Canadian newspaper The Star:

“How could I go to the same people and ask them to protect me when it’s those people who did this to me?”

Mr Ramirez worked as a volunteer outreach worker with the Young Men’s Christian Association and the Salvadoran Network of People Living with HIV.

He said he was picked on by three drunken officers at a restaurant in 2006 and driven to a plantation field where he was allegedly beaten and raped.

Five months later he claims a stranger called his sister and threatened to kill him for infecting them with the virus.

The refugee didn’t believe Ramirez left El Salvador because of the alleged assault as he had already planned to leave in November 2005.

The two stories come just weeks after the much published case of Iranian asylum seeker Mehdi Kazemi.

Mr Kazemi came to London in 2005 to study English but later discovered that his boyfriend had been arrested by the Iranian police, charged with sodomy and hanged.

The UK rejected his first asylum plea, but Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has now granted him a temporary reprieve from deportation while she reconsiders his case.

Last week the International Lesbian and Gay Association released the latest version of their map of LGBT rights across the world.

In 76 countries people face jail for having gay sex.

Homosexual acts officially carry the death penalty in several nations including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Sudan, and Yemen.

In many Muslim countries, such as Bahrain, Qatar, Algeria and the Maldives, homosexuality is punished with jail time, fines, or corporal punishment.

In Egypt, openly gay men have been prosecuted under general public morality laws.

Some liberal Muslims, such as the members of the Al-Fatiha Foundation, accept and consider homosexuality as natural pointing out that the Qu’ran speaks out against homosexual lust, and is silent on homosexual love.

However, this position remains highly controversial even amongst liberal movements within Islam, and is considered beyond the pale by mainstream Islam.

The UK is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which means that it has a responsibility under international law not to return refugees to a place where they would face persecution.

Full Article Pink News

Gays Demand China Free AIDS Advocate at Olympic Torch Protest:
A press conference was supposed to be held today at 11 AM at United Nations Plaza by Tibetans living in the US, to demand China end its occupation of their country. I went to it expecting 2 or 3 dozen Tibetans and their supporters would be standing behind a microphone tree, explaining what they hope to accomplish as the Olympic torch passes through town.

What I found when I got there was a full-fledged rally, held in front of a large elevated stage near the north end of the plaza, and perhaps five-hundred protesters waving flags, chanting slogans and handing out flyers.

I hooked up with five other gay men who were there to call for the release of Chinese AIDS advocate Hu Jia, sentenced to three years in jail last week for pro-democracy advocacy, and to add our voices to the “Free Tibet” chorus.

Here are two photos of us posing for the cameras:

I’m proud a handful of us gays were present today, and will be attending other pro-Tibet events today and tomorrow, as the Olympic torch wends its way through San Francisco. And big thanks to the other gays who showed up today in support of our Tibetan friends and incarcerated AIDS advocate Hu Jia.

By Michael Petelis :
http://mpetrelis.blogspot.com/2008/04/gays-demand-china-free-aids-advocate-at.html


Conservative MEP John Bowis made the following powerful speech in the European Parliament in favour of the successful resolution supporting Mehdi and Pegah Emambakhsh.


Bruxelles: The European Parliament has approved with 60 votes (46 in favour, 2 against and 12 abstentions) an urgent resolution on the case of Seyed Mehdi Kazemi – the 19-year-old Iranian gay – member of EveryOne Group – who is about to be extradited from Holland to the United Kingdom. He risked immediate deportation from London to Teheran, where the death sentence awaits him because of his homosexuality.

SEE ALSO :
https://gayswithoutborders.wordpress.com/2008/03/14/irqo-update-on-mehdi-kazemi-case/

Full text of the European Parliament’s Resolution on Mehdi Kazemi’s case:

The European Parliament,

– having regard to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and in particular to Article 3 thereof, which prohibits the removal, expulsion or extradition of persons to countries where there is a serious risk that they would be subjected to the death penalty, torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,

– having regard to the Charter of Fundamental Rights, and in particular to Articles 18 and 19 thereof on the right to asylum and on protection in the event of removal, expulsion or extradition respectively,

– having regard to the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951 and the Protocol of 31 January 1967 relating to the Status of Refugees,

– having regard to Council Directive 2004/83/EC on minimum standards for the qualification and status of third country nationals or stateless persons as refugees or as persons who otherwise need international protection and the content of the protection granted (Qualifications Directive) and to Council Regulation (EC) No 343/2003 on the criteria and mechanisms to determine the Member State responsible for assessing asylum applications (Dublin Regulation), as well as to other EU asylum instruments,

– having regard to the letter of 10 September 2007 from its President to the UK Prime Minister on the case of Pegah Emambakhsh, an Iranian lesbian who risked being sent back to Iran after her request for asylum was turned down,

– having regard to Rule 115(5) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas Mehdi Kazemi, a 19-year-old gay Iranian citizen, requested asylum in the United Kingdom and had his application turned down; whereas, fearing deportation, he fled to the Netherlands, where he applied for asylum; whereas Dutch authorities, after examining his request, have decided to send him back to the UK,

B. whereas UK authorities are now left with the final decision on his asylum application and possible deportation to Iran,

C. whereas Iranian authorities routinely detain, torture and execute persons, notably homosexuals; whereas Mehdi’s partner has already been executed, while his father has threatened him with death,

D. whereas in the similar case of Pegah Emambakhsh the UK authorities decided, after international pressure, not to deport her back to Iran, but whereas it is still not clear what her fate will be,

E. whereas the UK Prime Minister’s spokesperson, while not commenting on the case of Mehdi Kazemi, gave general assurances as to the conformity of UK asylum procedures with international commitments and to the possibility of appealing against asylum decisions to an independent judge, as well as to the fact that the authorities would not remove anyone who would be at risk on his or her return,

F. whereas more attention should be devoted to the proper application of EU asylum law in Member States as regards sexual orientation,

1. Expresses its serious concern regarding the fate of Mehdi Kazemi;

2. Asks for the proper and full application of the Qualifications Directive, which recognises persecution for sexual orientation as a ground for granting asylum and requires Member States to consider the individual case and the situation in the country of origin, including laws and regulations and the manner in which they are applied;

3. Believes that the EU and its Member States cannot apply European and national laws and procedures in a way which results in the expulsion of persons to a third country where they would risk persecution, torture and death, as this would amount to a violation of European and international human rights obligations;

4. Appeals to the Member states involved to find a common solution to ensure that Mehdi Kazemi is granted asylum or protection on EU soil and not sent back to Iran, where he would be executed, thus ensuring that Article 3 of the ECHR is fully respected by all European authorities and notably, in this case, by the UK; asks the Commission and the Council to fully cooperate with the Member States on this case;

5. Asks EU institutions and Member States to take action to prevent similar situations, in the future, through cooperation and EU guidelines to find solutions in similar cases; asks the Commission to monitor and evaluate the application of EU asylum law in Member States, and in particular as regards sexual orientation, and to report to the European Parliament; underlines the fact that the Commission has announced, for 2008, amendments to the Dublin Regulation and the Qualifications Directive which will address the issues raised in this resolution;

6. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Commission, the Council, the Member States, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and Mehdi Kazemi.

Activist Peter Tatchell explains the life-threatening situation for lesbian and gay people in Iran, during the BBC News,12 March 2008, item on gay asylum seeker, Mehdi Kazemi.

killing2.jpg

U.S. invasion has made life worse for Iraqi LGBT community

BY MELISSA MEINZER

Iraq has never been a great place to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. But since the U.S. invasion began five years ago, it has become much worse, according a gay Iraqi who fled to London two years ago.

“Are gay people in the United States, Britain and Australia aware of what their governments have done to our country?” writes Ali Hili on his group’s blog, Iraqi LGBT (iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com). “Their armies invaded and occupied our land, destroyed the infrastructure of government, and created the chaos and lawlessness that has allowed religious fundamentalism to flourish and to terrorize women and gay people.”

The chaos and resulting power grabs have made Iraq an extremely dangerous place to be queer or gender variant. “Violence against gays has intensified sharply since late 2005,” he writes.

So Hili formed Iraqi LGBT, a group dedicated to providing safe houses for LGBT people living in the war-torn nation. And the University of Pittsburgh’s LGBT group, the Rainbow Alliance, is hoping to help.

The group, which recently had to close three of its five houses because of financial constraints, provides safe group housing, food and medical care for LGBT people living in Iraq. Many of the residents it serves need medical treatment for HIV or gender transitioning.

“With strong social and political oppression against homosexuals and specific targeting by Islamic militia groups, LGBT Iraqis face abduction and death in the streets,” says Sean Casey, director of the Global Equality Network for Heartland Alliance. A Chicago-based nonprofit human-rights organization, Heartland Alliance handles U.S. fund-raising for the group.

Aaron Arnold, the president of Pitt’s Rainbow Alliance, interned with Casey last summer and learned about Iraqi LGBT through him.

“We’d done some international issues before; we figured our membership would be pretty interested,” says Arnold, a junior majoring in sociology with certificates in African studies and women, gender and sexuality studies. The student group is collecting funds and plans to match students’ donations with money from its own coffers. Next week is Pride Week at the university, so Rainbow will be staffing a fund-raising table on campus and hopes to collect money then. (To donate without visiting campus, click the donation button on iraqilglbtuk.blogspot.com.)

Some students, says Arnold, have objected to their fund-raising efforts, but he thinks it’s because they’re misinformed about what the group seeks to do.

“I think a lot of people on the surface hear that we’re trying to support LGBT people in Iraq and [think] that it’s antiwar or not patriotic,” he says. “We’re just trying to emphasize that these are human beings that were leading relatively normal lives until the infrastructure of their country collapsed. It’s not a statement about war; it’s a statement about humanity.”