Polis Makes Progress on Iraqi LGBT Rights
BY Kerry Eleveld
April 30 2009 12:00 AM ET
But Butenis rejected
the idea that any of the Iraqi government's police had
targeted LGBT individuals. "We have no evidence that [the
Iraq government's] security forces are in any way involved
with these militias," Butenis said in the
Though Branton agreed
that much of what's happening may not be explicitly
sanctioned by the government as a whole, he also said people
who work for the government may be taking matters into their
own hands. "I actually think that you have some rogue
individuals out there who are part of the government throwing
people into jail and then, in some cases, killing them,"
he said. "Technically, it's not official, but it's
happening nonetheless and no one seems to be stopping
Polis indicated in an
earlier interview that he was inclined to believe that there's
"a breakdown in the chain of
command." "I don't have any reason to
believe that these instances were authorized at the highest
level of civilian government," Polis said.
The letter also stated
that no Iraqis currently on death row are charged with crimes
related to homosexuality, according to the Iraqi minister of
human rights, Wijdan Salim. "The [embassy justice
attaché] has also reviewed relevant sections of the
Iraqi Penal Code and confirmed that homosexual conduct is not
punishable by death in Iraq," Butenis wrote.
Branton said it may be
true that no one on death row is specifically charged with
homosexuality. "But we think it's unusual in the stories
we've heard that five or six people will be thrown in a
jail cell together, and it will become clear to them in the
course of their conversations that they're all LGBT,"
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