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What Affects One, Affects All

Recently, Amir Ashour, MADRE’s Iraq Human Rights Consultant, was invited to Lund, Sweden to discuss the increased persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Iraqis due to the country’s escalating conflict. During his presentation, he emphasized the need for the international community to raise awareness of the grave abuses committed against LGBT individuals and demand the protection of their lives.

The event was organized by Stolt i Lund, a Swedish LGBT advocacy group, as part of the city’s Pride festival.

Read part of his presentation below.

Amir Ashour, MADRE’s Iraq Human Rights Consultant, presenting during a Pride event in Lund, Sweden
Amir Ashour, MADRE’s Iraq Human Rights Consultant, presenting during a Pride event in Lund, Sweden.

Members of Iraq’s LGBT community have faced serious threats for almost a decade. Since 2006, there have been waves of killings of people who are perceived to be queer, especially in Baghdad. Simply wearing skinny jeans can make you a target.

These organized campaigns start with publishing the names of people who will be killed if they do not change their looks and behavior. Individuals suspected of homosexual conduct are sometimes burned alive, stoned to death or thrown off of high buildings.

Each year, there is at least one killing campaign. The most recent, was this past January.

Various reports underestimate the amount of people who have been killed and place the number at only a few hundred. But think about all of those who have disappeared or victims who were killed and the real reasons were never declared. The numbers do not reflect the reality of what’s happening.

It is now 2015 and no has been imprisoned for these murders. The government pretends it’s not happening, Iraqi society thinks of them as “honor crimes” they can’t interfere with, and the international community isn’t holding Iraq accountable for these crimes.

I’m asking you to speak out against what’s happening in Iraq. Let us use our voices to promote human rights for individuals who don’t have the same space and opportunities to advocate for themselves.

Whether you do it by posting on social media or talking to organizations and policymakers that you know or work for, you can make a difference.

We have to make a difference.

It’s 2015 and the world has never been more connected. Our generation is the most resourceful and powerful generation in the history of humankind.

If we don’t do it, who will?

Additional resources

When coming out is a death sentence (pdf)

We're here: Iraqi LGBT People's accounts of violence and rights abuses (pdf)PDF icon