Polis Makes Progress on Iraqi LGBT Rights

Rep. Jared Polis has received a letter from Iraqi officials regarding reports of LGBT executions in the country, and he has sent a letter calling on the new U.S. ambassador to the country to investigate the charges.

BY Kerry Eleveld

April 30 2009 12:00 AM ET

After meeting with
Iraqi officials earlier this month regarding the persecution of
gays in Iraq, U.S. representative Jared Polis of Colorado has
received a response letter from the Iraqi chargé
d'affaires and has also initiated a new letter to the recently
confirmed U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Christopher Hill, that is
cosigned by representatives Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin.

The letter

from Iraqi chargé d'affaires Patricia Butenis denies
any official government involvement in LGBT executions that
have taken place but suggests some extra-governmental militias
may have engaged in such violence.

"We have seen the
international media report that, according to Amnesty
International, as many as 25 men and boys were killed over the
past few weeks by militia or relatives influenced by religious
leaders who have publicly condemned homosexuality,"
Butenis wrote in a letter dated April 22, 2009. "Reports
from Embassy contacts familiar with the areas where some of the
bodies were found suggest the killings are the work of militias
who believe homosexuality is a form of Western deviance that
cannot be tolerated."

Brian Branton,
Polis's chief of staff, said the information was a step
forward after the Iraqi ministry had originally called the
militia charges "unfounded." "We were glad to
hear that acknowledgment in her letter because in earlier
conversations with the state department they had not owned up
to that," Branton said of Iraqi officials.

Tags: Politics

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