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More "progress" in Iraq - gays being slaughtered

Eli Stephens, Left I on the News

March 28, 2006

Yesterday, as far as I can tell, the word "gay" appeared in the American corporate media in connection with Iraq for the first time, when we learned that one of the recently-released members of the Christian Peacemaker Team was gay, but had kept it quiet thinking that revealing it would put his life at even greater risk. In discussing this incident, the AP wrote:

In 2001, Amnesty International reported that Iraq's constitution was amended to make homosexuality a crime punishable by death. Although the constitution reverted back to the original 1969 document when Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled in 2003, the status of gay and lesbian rights remain unclear.
First of all, I have absolutely no idea why, under what international legal system, the Iraqi constitution would have "reverted back to the original 1969" version when the Iraqi government was overthrown. All we heard at the time, and for several years thereafter, was that Iraq had to write a constitution; the clear implication in the press was that it had none, when in fact it did. There was never a word about this "reverting" nonsense. And I don't know anything about this Amnesty International claim. Certainly the subject is not raised in the 1990 Constitution. Information on Wikipedia suggests that this whole thing has to do not with the Iraqi Constitution, but with the Iraqi criminal code, which had a variety of penalties for gays and a wide assortment of other sexual "offenses," and was assertedly supplemented in 2001 by a decree providing the death penalty for prostitution, homosexuality, incest and rape.

But back to the situation of gays. AP may think that the "status" (presumably they mean the legal status) of gays and lesbians remains unclear, but the situation of gays and lesbians is a lot clearer. That is, if you read sources other than the corporate media, which as far as I can tell have yet to breath a word about the fate of gays in Iraq, who are being systematically persecuted and killed in Iraq thanks to a death-to-gays fatwa issued by Shiite Muslim leader Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani last October. Pacific Views, where I learned about this, has a nice summary of the horrendous situation. Is this situation better or worse than it was before the invasion? It's hard to tell, but it certainly sounds like it has gotten much, much worse.

Update: I really should add that, in addition to the fact that this current turn of events is essentially a direct result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, it is a reasonable interpretation of history to suggest that the 2001 change of law was an indirect result of U.S. action as well. Wikipedia says, "It is believed that sudden usage of the death penalty was tied to a desire by Saddam Hussein to win the support of Iraqi Islamic conservatives." And this desire was hardly the result of Saddam Hussein "finding religion." No, it was the direct result of more than a decade of economic and increasingly military warfare (think no-fly zones) against Iraq by the U.S. and the U.K., and Hussein's need to shore up internal support of his regime in the face of those external attacks.

Second update: The editor of Uruknet provides some important updates. First, this, from a gay Iraqi exile who was on Democracy Now a few days ago, answering the question of "is the situation better or worse than it was before the invasion":

Iraq, at the time of Saddam, was -- I mean, I'm talking about as a gay Iraqi -- it was not as bad as we can see now. In fact, it was a little bit -- we have a little bit acceptance. We have little bit of -- not too many intimidation. People are really accepting gays, especially in theater, in entertainment and media. We had several actors, singers, which was very popular before. There was no homophobic attitudes toward gay and lesbians. Most of them are welcomed in the community and the society.
And second, just to emphasize today's reality, the text of Sistani's fatwa, with emphasis added:
Q: What is the judgement on sodomy and lesbianism?

A: "Forbidden. Those involved in the act should be punished. In fact, sodomites should be killed in the worst manner possible."

:: Article nr. 22026 sent on 29-mar-2006 06:20 ECT


Link: lefti.blogspot.com/2006_03_01_lefti_archive.html#114359563227481873

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