Outrage as UK government refuses to take action on asylum application by Iraqi gay leader
Action demanded of Gordon Brown and Alan Johnson
Foreign Office opposition to persecution undermined by Home Office actions
US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin spoke last month of their concerns for LGBT both in Iraq and as refugees, in a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton co-signed by 64 other Congresspeople.
Numerous human rights organisations and journalists have documented the pogrom against lesbians and gays in Iraq. Human Rights Watch has described a “campaign of torture and murder”. Iraqi LGBT estimates that over 700 LGBT have been assassinated over the past few years. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has advised ‘favourable consideration’ for asylum claims because of the situation.
Hili has received many 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.
- the assistance which Hili has given to the Foreign Office “does not count”
- the fatwa against him does not mean that Hili “falls within the classification of clear and immediate vulnerability”
- that the delay in deciding Hili’s asylum case (since July 2007) “is not in itself an exceptional circumstance”
- his case is not “compelling”
Hili said: “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. 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 asks?
Foreign Office Minister Chris Bryant wrote in his blog on Feb. 24: “I know some people dismiss LGBT rights as something of a sideshow in international relations, but I am proud to say that the FCO has argued for a decade that human rights are a seamless garment.”
The Foreign Office Human Rights Report for 2009 specifically names Iraqi LGBT over other NGOs as a key source of information. Hili has met with them numerous times. The report quotes Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell condemming persecution of LGBT in Iraq.
Yet the same government through the Home Office effectively aids that persecution through the failure of recognition to Iraqi LGBT’s leader.
Hili’s supporters said that they would be taking the campaign to get his case decided – so Iraqi lesbians and gays can have a voice in the world – to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary Alan Johnson.
The internationally renowned human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has said of Hili:
“It was Ali Hili of Iraqi LGBT who first alerted the world to the organised killing of LGBT people in Iraq – way back in 2005. For a long time, he was a lone voice.”
“Soon afterwards, he exposed the death fatwa against LGBT people issued by Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
“Mr Hili was also the person who set up the ‘underground railroad’ and safe houses inside Iraq, to give refuge to LGBT people on the run from Islamist death squads and to provide escape routes to neighbouring countries – which saved the lives of many Iraqi LGBTs.