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IDAHO -- International Day Against Homophobia

Protest Against the Torture and Murder of LGBTs in Iraq May 17th

GLN permalink posted May 3, 2009

IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia) began several years ago in Europe as a day to protest the continuing repression against LGBT people around the world. May 17th was chosen as the date for the annual events as that's the day back in 1992 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from its list of psychiatric disorders.

Last year GLN, along with activists in New York and San Francisco, brought IDAHO to the United States for the first time.

This year, for our second annual IDAHO event, we had originally decided to target the continuing hostility of Polish President Lech Kaczyński to LGBT rights with a picket outside of the Polish consulate on Lake Shore Drive. However, an urgent crisis for LGBT people in Iraq has forced us to change these plans.

Over the past few weeks a renewed campaign to torture and execute gay people has exploded in U.S.-occupied Iraq, promoted both by Shi'ite clerics and by the Shi'ite-dominated government which is closely allied with the United States.

Back in 2005, the country's leading Shi'ite cleric said that gays and lesbians should be "punished, in fact, killed" and that "the people should be killed in the worst, most severe way of killing." After some protests this language was removed from the cleric's website, and the anti-gay campaign appeared to subside.

However, over the past month, the campaign in Iraq to murder gays has ramped up again, with predictable results: at least dozens of gays killed in just the past few weeks, some of them horribly tortured before being murdered. According to United Press International, "Sadr City's Muslim clerics have reportedly urged the faithful to destroy homosexuality Iraqi society and police have undertaken an effort to arrest and jail gay men." (April 4, 2009, LINK)

Iraqi LGBT, the main support group for gays in Iraq (and those trying to flee), reports that some of the few hundred prisoners awaiting execution by the Iraqi govenment are there because of the "crime" of homosexuality. Despite these human rights violations by a close U.S. ally, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made no public protest about this situation during her visit to Baghdad a week ago.

Over the past two weeks there have been protests in New York and San Francisco which got quite a bit of press about this situation, despite the small size of the protests. We in Chicago are uniquely positioned to add even more pressure. When we hold our IDAHO event outside Obama's residence in Hyde Park, we could help force his administration to finally speak out about these human rights violations by a close U.S.ally.

Therefore our IDAHO event will be at the same time as originally slated (2 PM, Sunday, May 17th), but will instead will be near President Obama's Chicago residence – 51st Street & Greenwood (that's the closest that security will allow you to get to the 5046 S. Greenwood address) -- and we will focus on the dire situation of LGBT people in Iraq.

Save the date, and be there to help save Iraqi gays from murder:

2 PM, Sunday, May 17th
Hyde Park Boulevard (51st Street) and Greenwood.

Limited rides are available from the North Side. If you need a ride, please email Rufnel@aol.com

Read a first-person account from a recent Gay Iraqi refugee here:
The Pink Army


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