Delegates attending a human rights conference in London have been told that gay and lesbian people in Iraq are being systematically targeted.
At a conference on Faith, Homophobia and Human Rights, 250 people from over fifty organisations have signed a statement condemning homophobia within religious institutions that fail to confront prejudice and hate.
The event on Saturday, was backed by sponsors including the Home Office, religious organisations, trade unions, LGBT groups, secular campaigners, and ethnic minority agencies.
One of the most notable contributions to the conference came from Ali Hilli, leader of the gay rights group Iraqi LGBT.
He received a standing ovation after giving a passionate speech condemning the US and UK-backed Iraqi government for colluding with death squads responsible for the “sexual cleansing” of LGBT Iraqis.
“Iraqi LGBTs are at daily risk of execution by the Shia death squads of the Badr and Sadr militias [the armed wings of the two main Shia parties that control the Iraqi government],” he said.
“Members of these militias have infiltrated the Iraqi police and are abusing their police authority to pursue a plan to eliminate all homosexuals in Iraq.”
He went on to suggest that Iraqi government was directly involved in the activities of Badr and Sadr.
“These governing parties, particularly the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq, are complicit in the widespread execution of Iraqi LGBTs.
“What is happening today in Iraq is one of the most organised and systematic sexual cleansings in the history of the world,” he told the conference.
Mr Hili, a gay refugee from Iraq, is also Middle East Affairs
spokesperson for the UK-based LGBT human rights group, OutRage!
Conference organiser, Revd Richard Kirker of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, praised the 250 people who attended.
“Members of the world’s six largest religions, as well as humanists, secularists, agnostics, and atheists, from a wide variety of political parties, trade unions, and community groups drawn from the whole of Britain, showed they wanted to work more closely together in the face of threats from religious fundamentalists.
“The conference clearly believed it was more important to unite and bear witness to the importance of promoting human rights, than to dwell on differences which would pale into irrelevant insignificance if fundamentalism’s inherently intolerant agenda were to gain strength.”