US embassy in Baghdad backs emo and LGBT murder vigil
The US Embassy in Baghdad has sent a message of support to San Franciscan activists holding a vigil for Iraqi emo, goth and LGBT people who are currently being murdered.
Following the reports on the massacre of EMO and LGBTQ youth by Gay Middle East and PinkNews.co.uk, San Francisco based activist group Gays Without Borders are organizing a vigil in the Castro district of San Francisco this Wednesday (14.3.12) in solidarity with Iraqi EMO, LGBT and Goth youth and highlighting the massacres against them and their plight.
According the blog of Petrelis, one of the organizers, the ‘demonstration has a main goal: Create photos and videos illustrating lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender support for the besieged and fearful targeted communities in Iraq. Then use those images to show the world and our friends in Iraq that LGBT activists are not silent over the murders.’
The vigil will take place from 4pm to 6pm at Castro and 18th Streets, ‘the crossroads of gay America’.
During the vigil activists will display an ‘Iraq: Stop killing gays’ banner, ‘and tape enlarged photos of the victims when they were still alive, after being murdered, along with news stories to the walls of the Bank of America. Candles will be lighted in remembrance of the dead and hope for an end to the killings.’
The vigil ‘is one part of the global response to the Iraqi situation – from pressuring governments and the United Nations to take action protecting the at-risk communities to using social networking to sustain visibility.’
Melanie Nathan, one of the organizers from San Francisco urges all to come down to the Castro to express their outrage.
She told PinkNews.co.uk: ‘We will not tolerate the ongoing persecution of our community in Iraq. Surely after Saddam Hussein, all Iraqi people have a right to expect that the genocide of any group is a thing of the past.
‘Wake up America, I thought there was at least some point to that awful war.’
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Nathan hopes the Gays Without Borders protests will spread worldwide to help prevent more massacres, and also notes that if it rains the venue may change and so asks participants to keep an eye out for updates.
In addition the campaign received a letter of support from the US Embassy in Baghdad saying the ‘embassy shares your concern about the recent attacks in Iraq against individuals identified as gay or part of the “emo” culture.
‘When NGOs here in Iraq first brought this issue to our attention, we immediately expressed our concern to the government of Iraq, urged immediate measures to combat this violence, and undertook to try to ascertain the details of these attacks.
‘Along with the embassy, the US Department of State strongly condemns the recent violence and killings in Iraq by groups who appear to be targeting individuals based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, or personal expression. These acts of intolerance should have no place in any society.’
The embassy also stated that through its ‘advocacy and diplomatic efforts, we will continue to urge the Iraqi government to condemn attacks on the LGBT community and to devote all possible attention to preventing such crimes.
‘The State Department will continue to advance a comprehensive human rights agenda that includes the elimination of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
‘I appreciate your concern for the Iraqis who have suffered and who are at risk of suffering from this violence. I assure you and the members of your organization that the embassy is fully engaged at the highest levels to end these attacks, bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure a secure and free future for all Iraqis.’
Separately, All Out has launched a amajor international petition to generate international pressure to stop the massacre which you can sign here.