Take Action: Urge Congress to Stand with LGBT Iraqis

Join the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) in urging the U.S. Congress to help protect the lives of persecuted lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals at risk of grave human rights abuses in Iraq. Call on the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus to stand with LGBT individuals at risk in Iraq—one of the least protected of all groups facing horrific violence in the chaos and conflict of present-day Iraq.

Background

LGBT people in Iraq have long been persecuted. But the rising tide of turmoil today puts many at imminent risk of death. The Islamic State prescribes death for the “practice” of homosexuality. Furthermore, evidence gathered for two briefings by IGLHRC and its partners, MADRE and the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, demonstrate the direct effect of the collapse of the rule of law on LGBT persons, through unfettered violence by sectarian militias.

While the conflict in Iraq has placed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis at risk of serious human rights violations, LGBT Iraqis face unique threats to their safety. In addition, escape to previously safer areas, such as Iraqi Kurdistan, has been curtailed by the conflict. Unlike other groups, such as women or ethnic and religious minorities, LGBT people have little communal safety or protection from family, tribal or community members. Once exposed, family and community members, along with the authorities, are often complicit in abuses against LGBT individuals.

The suffering and harrowing experiences of LGBT individuals outlined in the report “We’re Here,” include atrocities such as the one described by Leyla, a 26-year-old lesbian woman, who was kidnapped, tortured, beaten and then forced to witness the slaughter of a gay man before her eyes. She wants only to live without fear.

What can be done?

The U.S. government has committed to extending protections to vulnerable populations in Iraq. The LGBT community faces a desperate situation: try to remain hidden or risk exposure and, through that, potential death. The Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus has been a steadfast supporter of our community’s rights. Now is the time for them to speak up on behalf of LGBT Iraqis!

Please urge the Caucus co-chairs—Rep. David Cicilline of Rhode Island, Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, Mike Michaud of Maine, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, Jared Polis of Colorado, Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Mark Takano of California—to help support LGBT Iraqis in the same vein as other groups.

Together, we can ask the U.S. government to:

  1. Help expedite resettlement of at-risk members of the Iraq LGBT community to the United States and other Western countries through the United Nations Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration.
  2. Reiterate the Iraqi government’s obligation to provide protection for all people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
  3. Increase resources for the Iraqi civil society to protect victims of so-called honor crimes, especially LGBT individuals.

Please join me in asking Congress to ensure that LGBT individuals are provided protections that may be available to other vulnerable populations in Iraq.

Improve the situation for LGBT Iraqis. Urge elected U.S. leaders to act:

  • David Cicilline (D–Rhode Island)
  • Sean Patrick Maloney (D–New York)
  • Mike Michaud (D–Maine)
  • Mark Pocan (D–Wisconsin)
  • Jared Polis (D–Colorado)
  • Kyrsten Sinema (D–Arizona)
  • Mark Takano (D–California)