The leader of London-based Iraqi LGBT expressed concern and anger about the lack of U.S. response to reports of a rise in killings of gay men as well as young men perceived to be gay. And he urged Americans to contact the U.S. State Department and Secretary Hillary Clinton to demand a response.
Media organizations have labeled the new reports of murders as “emo killings” since the recent targets have been youth associated with the "emo" movement -- young men who listen to Western music, dress in black, wear tattoos and style their hair. Many are not gay, but Ali Hili, speaking on my radio program on SiriusXM, said that they are considered gay to many Islamic fundamentalists in Iraq. He said these killings are part of a larger pattern of killing and violence carried out by Islamic militias against gay men for the past six years.
“There’s a lack of knowledge in the militias," Hili said. 'To them anyone who has adopted a certain Western style, a certain appearance -- anyone that appears different, it’s a homosexual phenomenon, period.”
Hili emphasized that an agenda demanding conformity is being carried out from within the Interior Ministry of the Iraqi government, which he believes has not only ignored the killings but, as media organizations have also reported, has sent its Social Police into the streets of Baghdad to enforce religious doctrine.
“It’s the miltias with the support of the Iraqi government,” he said. “The goverment has declared war on sexual minorities. It’s worse than [Saudi Arabia]. They are trying to rally the streets of Baghdad. Yesterday and the last six or seven days -- we have videos and films of those patrols -- with a megaphone they’re saying, 'If anyone who has any information about anyone who is a pervert, an infidel, part of the homosexual network, you have to declare it or you face consequences.' Anyone who harbors anyone who is, acording o them, an illegal citizen, will face consequences.”
Hili accused the U.S. government of hypocrisy in light of Hillary Clinton’s speech in Geneva last year condemning antigay governments and threatening the possibility of the U.S. withholding foreign aid to such nations.
“They have been looking the other way,” he said of the Obama adminstration. “And it’s shame on the world community that this genocide is happening under the eyes of the world -- and the gay community in particular. No one is doing anything to help their brothers and sisters in Iraq.”
“There has been nothing from the State Department," he said. “We haven’t heard anything.”
UPDATE: After this story was originally published, a State Department Spokesperson responded via e-mail:
We strongly condemn the recent violence and killings in Iraq by groups who appear to be targeting individuals based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or personal expression. These acts of intolerance have no place in democratic societies.
We are monitoring this situation closely on the ground and in Washington, and have expressed our concern to the Government of Iraq.
As Secretary Clinton said, “Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human… It is a violation of human rights when people are beaten or killed because of their sexual orientation, or because they do not conform to cultural norms about how men and women should look or behave.”
Listen to the full interview here: