While we rightly celebrate the marriage victories in Iowa and Vermont these past few days, it’s good to remember our LGBT brothers and sisters whose struggles are greater than our own. In Iraq, for instance, homosexuality it against the law, and the LGBT movement there is facing more than just a little discrimination:
In the past two months, the bodies of as many as 25 boys and men suspected of being gay have turned up in the huge Shiite enclave of Sadr City, the police and friends of the dead say. Most have been shot, some multiple times. Several have been found with the word “pervert” in Arabic on notes attached to their bodies, the police said.
“Three of my closest friends have been killed during the past two weeks alone,” said Basim, 23, a hairdresser. “They had been planning to go to a cafe away from Sadr City because we don’t feel safe here, but they killed them on the way. I had planned to go with them, but fortunately I didn’t.”
The scary thing here is that it’s not just death squads out shooting complete strangers because they might be gay, some of these LGBT people are being killed by their own family members.
“I don’t care about the militias anymore, because they’re going to kill me anyway today, tomorrow or the day after,” said a man named Sa’ad, who has been taking estrogen and has developed small breasts. “I hate my community and my relatives. If they had their way, the result would be one gunshot.”
This violent persecution has not prevented LGBT people in Iraq from gathering together. We need to keep them in our prayers as they seek to live authentically in a country that not just oppresses them, but kills them.
Founder of Motley Mystic and the Jubilee! Circle interfaith spiritual community In Columbia, S.C., Candace Chellew (she/her) is the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians (Jossey-Bass, 2008). Founder and Editor Emeritus of Whosoever, she earned her masters of theological studies at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, was ordained by Gentle Spirit Christian Church in December 2003, and trained as a spiritual director through the Omega Point program of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. She is also a musician and animal lover.