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Iraq Offers Lessons for American Queers on Theocracy At Home

Posted by libhom Sunday, March 23, 2008

This is my contribution to the Blog Against Theocracy.

If you are a queer Christian, it may be difficult for you to understand why those pesky atheists keep making a big deal about prayer in schools, "In God We Trust" on coins, etc.

Part of it has to do with a numerical minority trying to protect its rights and fight for its dignity. That kind of battle, with a multitude of different numerical minorities doing the fighting, goes back to the colonies, before the USA even existed. Atheists in this country are behaving like quintessential Americans.

But, atheists and other supporters of state/church separation have another agenda, preventing theocratic government, government by the churches. For years, when a supporter of separation wanted an example of why state/church separation is so important, Iran was always there to provide a strong argument.

Thanks to the war, Iraq also serves as such an argument.

Thanks to the invasion and occupation, the quasi-government in Baghdad is dominated primarily by various militant Shi'ite and Sunni Muslim political parties. At the local level, religious militias have real power in peoples' day to day lives. This has been disastrous for women. It has been disastrous for queers.

Doug Ireland has done some excellent reporting on the situation for queers in Iraq. Here are two examples:

HUNTING GAYS IN IRAQ: How the Death Squads Work (10/06)

“Every gay and lesbian here lives in fear, just pure fear, of being beaten or killed,” says Ahmad, a 34-year-old gay man, via telephone from his home in Baghdad. “Homosexuality is seen here as imported from the West and as the work of the devil.”

Ahmad is masculine and “straight-acting,” he says. “I can go out without being harassed or followed.” But that’s not the case for his more effeminate gay friends. “They just cannot go outside, period,” he says. “If they did, they would be killed.” To help them survive, Ahmad has been bringing food and other necessities to their homes. “The situation for us gay people here is beyond bad and dangerous,” he says.

For the very first time, an official United Nations human rights report released last week has confirmed the "violent campaigns" against Iraqi gays and the "assassinations of homosexuals in Iraq."

"Attacks on homosexuals and intolerance of homosexual practices have long existed, yet they have escalated in the past year," says the latest bi-monthly Human Rights Report of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), released on January 16. "Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly hostile towards homosexuals, frequently and openly engaging in violent campaigns against them. There have been a number of assassinations of homosexuals in Iraq," the report says.

Ireland also documents the rise of power for the theocratic elements:

If the Bush administration brokered a deal in Occupied Iraq to enshrine Islamic law as the guiding principle of the new Iraqi Constitution, you'd think it would be headline news in the U.S. media, wouldn't you? Well, that's what has happened -- yet you canIraq_flag search the Sunday papers in vain to find this sell-out to the Islamists clearly portrayed -- or, in some cases, even mentioned.

Anyone familiar with the Christian Taliban should know that when religion takes over politics and government, queers are in danger. It should be no surprise that Iraq follows the pattern. If you think I'm being too much of a drama queen about this, consider what some in the Christian Taliban openly say.

Put Homosexuals To The Sword
Civil officials have a God ordained duty to execute sodomites.

The word of God commands, "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them" (Lev.20:13).

Have we not been taught that homosexuality is an abomination (Lev.18:22). And those who engage in homosexuality are so vile that their very presence defiles the land and its inhabitants (Lev.18:25-28).

This sodomite defilement brings eternal damnation upon all who approve of homosexuality (Rom.1:32, 13:2) and brings God's righteous judgment of punishment and death on the society as a whole (Gen.19:24-25, II Pet.2:6).

This kind of rhetoric is hardly unusual when Christian fundamentalists are speaking to each other, though most are sensible enough not to openly express these views when trying to appeal to the general public.

It's also useful to remember that years of terrible AIDS policies resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of gay and bisexual men in the US. Those policies (e.g., lack of AIDS education, resisting condom distribution, and low budgets for medical research given the scope of the pandemic) were largely the results of heterosexist Christians trying to act out on the very same Biblical hatreds.

Do you want these people running the country?

Next time you read about someone pushing in favor of state/church separation, don't get annoyed or offended. Support them. They are the first lines of defense against theocracy and all the dangers theocracy poses to lgbt people.


  1. A very enlightning and scary post. Some of our fundamental churchs teach that same bigotry.

  2. Well done. Thanks for the posting.

  3. Excellent post.

    The certainly do. Bigots for the lord.

    I thought well... our current form of democracy (theocracy-lite) has certainly reared its head in Iraq when we hear of such bigotry against gays. Welcome to The US of Iraq. Two intolerant nations. One occupied and the other vacant.

  4. Mauigirl Says:
  5. Excellent post. I totally agree.



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