Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Safe For Gays, Sort Of, But Not For Lesbians

An order to kill gays in the "worst, most severe way possible" has been removed from the Web site of Iraq's most revered Shiite Muslim leader, the Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani.

An Iraqi gay rights organization in London, Iraqi LGBT-UK, made the announcement Monday. The group had protested the cleric's order, or fatwa, and negotiated with the leader to remove it. The offending section was removed May 10, but a similar call for punishing lesbians remains on the cleric's site.

"We welcome the decision to remove the most murderously homophobic part of Sistani's fatwa from his Web site," said gay Iraqi refugee Ali Hili, the leader of Iraq LGBT-UK.

"This decision does not go far enough," he added. "The fatwa has been removed from Sistani's Web site only. It has not been revoked. We want the entire fatwa withdrawn, including the hateful denunciation calling for the punishment of lesbians."

The group also called on Sistani to apologize and issue a new fatwa against all vigilante violence in the country, including attacks against LGBT Iraqis.

The anti-gay fatwa was first posted in October. Iraqi LGBT-UK credits the fatwa for increasing anti-gay violence and murders in the country.

In a recent highly publicized incident, a 14-year-old boy was shot by Iraqi police officers for the apparent crime of being gay. The boy reportedly slept with men to help support his poverty-stricken family.


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