Monday, April 6, 2009

Being Gay In Iraq Can Be A Death Sentence

It is terrifying to learn that no one even knows how many have been killed for being gay and that even an allegation of homosexuality can lead to death.  One man reportedly said that “he would rather kill himself than have his family learn that he is gay”.

A stranger on street said, “I consider gays to be criminals and terrorists, we as an Islamic society consider it to be against the law and so they should be punished by the law.” 

The invasion of Iraq was justified as bringing freedom to  people and what is clear is that the GLBT community has experienced even more repression since the fall of Saddam.  Instead of the supposed secularism leading to autonomy for all peoples, it has become a death sentenced to the most marginalized groups.

This is not an issue of Islam being highly intolerant as much as it is about fundamentalists using religion to spread their hatred. Just as there are fundamentalist Christians that use the bible to press for heterosexist privilege, there are some Muslims using the Qu’ran to oppress the GLBT community. 

Since the US invasion lead to even more oppression, what is clear is that the only solution to bigotry and hatred is education.   Guns cannot force a change of heart, people must be taught proactively about equality and they must learn through experience by positive interaction with the GLBT community that they pose no threat.  Laws must be enacted to punish hate crimes. 

Obama has been very vocal about pointing out that the real threat to the US is Al-Qaeda, while I believe the real threat is ignorance, and poverty.   In learning to value others freedom will come as a natural result.  Not only do we hate what we do not understand; we do so to express power because we feel powerless.  If we empower the citizenship through education that centers human rights  as a basic fundamental concept, the quality of life will improve for all. 

It has already been proven that when women are  given access to education, the standard of life improves and the same concept can apply to all other marginalized groups.  It is time we start to counter hate with education and opportunity.  There can be no quick fixes to inequality, after all we have spent generations pushing the idea that difference equals inferior and therefore the path to change to will arduous but it is certainly worth the attempt.


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