The bodies of gay Iraqis said to have
been assassinated because of their sexuality
by religious death squads.
The UK Border Agency has been criticised for undermining opposition to the persecution of gays and lesbians in Iraq, despite the Foreign Office acknowledging their plight.
The agency, which is part of the Home Office and responsible for granting asylum in the UK, has been accused of dragging its feet in applications from LGBT Iraqis – particularly in the case of activist Ali Hili.
Hili, in exile in London, is the leader of Iraqi LGBT; a group fighting for the rights of LGBT people in the Middle Eastern country. His application has been outstanding for nearly three years and while it is outstanding, he cannot travel.
Hili has received nuemrous requests to speak about the situation in Iraq internationally, including from US-based groups such as the Gay Liberation Network and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Campaign, which he has been unable to pursue.
According to Iraqi LGBT, the limitation imposed on Hili “directly impacts on harshly persecuted Iraqi lesbians and gays through the reduced ability of their sole visible leader to raise their profile internationally”.
Numerous international human rights groups have highlighted the deteriorating environment for LGBT people in Iraq, with Human Rights Watch documenting a “campaign of torture and murder“.
Hili has received a fatwa from inside Iraq as well as numerous threats in London which have forced him to move. He is under the protection of the Metropolitan Police.
“It is extremely distressing that the British government is refusing to allow me to take up the many offers to speak on behalf of the lesbians and gays in our organisation,” said Hili. “ I have been the only person who has willingly identified themselves as a gay Iraqi and this has made me a target. But the British government doesn’t take this seriously.
“Why are they undermining the work of our group? Why does the Foreign Office say it supports lesbians and gays around the world yet the Home Office does this to me?” he asked.
Paul Canning, Editor of LGBT Asylum News, said: “If Ali is not deserving of expediency in decision making I don’t know who is.”
“The government should be 100% behind the work of Iraqi LGBT, indeed they are quite willing to accept their help and advice at the Foreign Office. But they treat Ali and, through him Iraqi lesbians and gays, like dirt who don’t deserve our protection and support. It is completely outrageous.”