Two gay Iraqi refugees sparked astonishment at a LGBT meeting in Lebanon when they accused US soldiers of committing atrocities against gay Iraqi civilians.
An audience at the Human Rights Campaign headquarters last Friday was shown graphic images of beheaded corpses and photographs which apparently depicted US soldiers preparing to execute gays.
One of the men, who used the name Hussam, said US soldiers displayed signs such as ‘F**k Off Fags’ outside their barracks.
Hussam presented the shocked audience with a photograph of a US soldier standing in front of a small group of chained naked men.
He claimed that the men were gay and that he had images of their subsequent execution.
According to the Washington Blade, which had a reporter present at the meeting, Hussam has refused to release images of the execution and an organiser became defensive when questioned further.
US defence officials have said they are unaware of any allegations of gay killings by American soldiers.
Scott Long, director of Human Rights Watch, which co-sponsored the meeting said he had just returned from a fact-finding trip to Iraq and had seen no evidence of the claims.
The Human Right Campaign said it was working to verify the allegations but as yet, was not able to do so.
The Washington Blade has raised grave concerns about the claims, saying the presentation raised more questions than it answered.
In a blog post on the Houston Voice website, Blade editor Kevin Naff wrote: “Many unanswered questions remain: When and where were these photos taken and under what circumstances? How would American service members know that these Iraqi men were gay? Why were these images not shared with the military or the media sooner?”
Naff added: “It’s astounding that organisers thought they could raise such grave allegations as these – US soldiers committing murder – with impunity. Did it not occur to them that someone in the room would demand a public explanation? How could anyone view those images and not recognise their implications?”
According to Naff, the Blade approached the organiser of the meeting who became “defensive” when questions were asked about the veracity of the photos.
The organiser also accused the Blade of violating an “off the record” agreement. Naff said no such agreement had been made and that the newspaper had protected the men’s identities.
Those who attended the meeting donated around $6,000 to benefit Helem, a not-for-profit gay group in Lebanon. One man present told the Blade he increased his donation after viewing the images.
Ali Hili, of the London-based Iraqi LGBT group, told PinkNews.co.uk he did not believe the refugees’ claims.
He added he had heard similar claims over eight months ago from a man who said he had photographs of alleged atrocities and was trying to get compensation. Hili said the man had changed his story three times in the space of a week.
He said: “I agree that the US Army has done atrocities in the past against Iraqi civilians, but from all the testimonies of hundreds of lesbians, gay, bisexual and trans people, which all refer to a positive experience from the presence of the US army and troops, except for one or two isolated incidents where two soldiers called one of our group’s members ”faggot’ while they were laughing in one of the search raids in their home.
“I personally do not believe that any American soldier[s] attack, kill or persecute people because of their sexual identity.
“Such allegation is very damaging not only for the gay rights movements in Iraq, but also for the credibility of the real suffering of Iraqi people for the last six years, these desperate allegations and accusations to get compensation or asylum will be a dark page in the history of Iraq.
“If we have to get our freedom back, it should be gained with dignity, honesty and the truth.”