Systematic attacks on Iraqi Gays
After hearing a report on this on CBC radio earlier this afternoon, I came on line to gauge what the reaction to this story was, I did find a thread... but it was locked within a half hour of being started (well before I came across it). I find the locking of the thread to have been an extremely questionable call. I would really appreciate it if Maysie would respond to this post with some sort of explanation of why the decision was made to lock the thread as opposed to simply re-banning someone who had flagrantlly violated board rules.
The post itself was drawing attention to the systematic violence and campaign of torture and murder being conducted against gay men, a campaign linked to the Medhi army, a militia based in the Shia enclave of Sadr City in Baghdad. The post almost made reference to "so-called honour killings" where the families of the victims are the ones who are responsible for the violence and killings.
I am not interested in getting into a debate as to whether the poster in question is a racist. What I am interested in is why the thread itself was killed. The OP did nothing more than draw attention to something only now being reported on in the main stream press, and while the poster may have had questionable motives, the story itself is calling out for reaction.
Had the thread been left unlocked, I had planned to use it as a platform to raise a number of questions:
1) On refugee policy. When there is an indication of a concerted campaign of violence against an group protected under the Charter, should not there be action by the federal government to expedite refugee claims from potential victims originating in the area where the campaign is taking place?
2) On Human Rights Groups. There is a somewhat shameful record of human rights groups on the question of state sanctioned and state tolerated violence against the LGBT communities -- this was most obvious in the 1980s where Amnesty consistently refused to consider Gay and Lesbian activists imprisoned and tortured as "prisoners of conscience". I am encouraged to see the Human Rights Watch (HRW) actually released this report, but would also like to see this expanded upon and see how it plays out in countries where any non-heterosexual activity is treated harshly under the law.
3) The role of religious fanaticism. Having wandered through the comments section of the same story on the CBC website, it was quite obvious that the rabidly anti-Islamic elements of the right were going to seize upon this story as a chance to bash Islam in general, but I think there would be some value in visiting the subject nonetheless... perhaps with an emphasis on how this level of fanaticism seems to mirrored in certain Christian sects, certain Jewish sects, certain Hindu sects (do I really need to go on)?
4) Working cross culturally to combat homophobia: One of the things that came to my mind upon reading the story was what incredible negative spin that exists within various cultural communities over equal rights for the LGBT community, and the lack of public space to have any discussion on overcoming the disagreements at the core of this. I thought babble might have been an interesting place to pursue that.
5) The commitment of babble itself to LGBT equality. Sarcastic comments aside (and yes, it was me who posted the one word comment "FINALLY!!" to the thread acknowledging the existence of a dedicated LGBT forum), babble does not really have a sterling record of bringing these concerns to the fore. I understand that there are a number of potential landmines in discussion around cultural reactions to the LGBT communities and in the questioning of rigidly defined gender definitions, but defusing the landmines seems a better solution than just avoiding them.
But I really didn't get a chance to bring those concerns up in the original thread. It was shut down within a half hour of having been opened. Again, I really would like to see an explanation of why that was. Even if the original poster, ArabCan, was motivated simply to cause trouble, banning the poster was sufficient - there was no need to stomp on the topic itself.
Now I will grant, there is an element of "that might have been me" when I read about the gay male victims of these attacks who had their anuses glued shut and were then force fed laxatives leading to what a spokesperson for HRW referred to as a "very painful death". But I still think it calling out for discussion and examination. It may turn out to be that this is the "Belgian Nuns" story to have come out of the Iraq war... but somehow I doubt that.
The news story being cited is worth being linked to again: