U.S. State Department condemns violence against gays in Iraq

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Gays in IraqAt a State Department briefing yesterday Department Spokesman Ian Kelley condemned acts of violence against gays and lesbians in Iraq.

Well, let me say that, in general, we absolutely condemn acts of violence and human rights violations committed against individuals in Iraq because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is an issue that we’ve been following very closely since we have been made aware of these allegations, and we are aware of the allegations.

Our training for Iraqi security forces includes instruction on the proper observance of human rights. Human rights training is also a very important part of our and other international donors’ civilian capacity-building efforts in Iraq. And the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has raised and will continue to raise the issue with senior officials from the Government of Iraq, and has urged them to respond appropriately to all credible reports of violence against gay and lesbian Iraqis.

Video of the question and answer begins at the 20:50 mark.

Violence toward gays and lesbians in Iraq has been on the increase in recent months, many tortured or murdered by local militias or by their own relatives for shaming their families. Prominent religious leaders like radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr continue to condemned homosexuality in the harshest terms, inciting the violence.

The growing violence seems at odds with a statement made last April by John Fleming of the State Department: “In fact, it’s [homosexuality] immaterial to Iraqis … Frankly, there are other issues they’re concerned about like basic survival, getting food and water. It’s a luxury for the average Iraqi to worry about homosexuality.”

While homosexuality is not against the law in Iraq, it is forbidden by Islam.

Post by ILO on 06/11/09 at 12:51 pm