June 11, 2009 – Forty-five members of the California Legislature, led by Senator Mark Leno and the LGBT Legislative Caucus, have called on the Obama Administration to prevent the persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Iraq. The lawmakers sent a letter to the Administration late last week encouraging the United States to take immediate action to stop the violence against LGBT Iraqis.
Disturbing reports of the torture, beating and killing of LGBT Iraqis have surfaced in recent months as part of an effort led by police officers to “clean up” Iraq by getting both beggars and gays and lesbians off the streets. This year alone, 63 people, most of them men and boys suspected of being gay, have been tortured or killed as a result of religious decrees against LGBT people in Iraq.
“The unspeakable violence by religious zealots against gay and lesbian Iraqis, financed by our tax dollars, violates basic human rights and goes against our purpose of being in that country – to bring freedom and democracy to the Iraqi people,” said Senator Leno (D-San Francisco). “We have called on President Obama to condemn these actions and encourage national and international leaders to apply immediate and necessary pressure on the Iraqi government to prevent these atrocities and protect the life and liberty of all Iraqi people.”
The letter, which was sent to the Obama Administration on June 5, explains that the Iraqi government is violating its obligations as a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Covenant states that the Iraqi government has an obligation to protect the right to life and the right of all its citizens “to be free from torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment.”
Forty-five California lawmakers signed the letter, including all four members of the LGBT Legislative Caucus: Senator Leno, Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) and Assemblymember John A. Pérez (D-Los Angeles).
To view a copy of the letter to the Obama Administration regarding the persecution of LGBT Iraqis, visit Senator Leno’s website, www.sen.ca.gov/leno and click on the link to this press release.