First Emo and LGBT Murder Vigil Backed By Baghdad US Embassy
Three days ago (March 10th) All Out activists launched an international campaign based on a report conducted by Gayday Magazine, Gay Middle East, Bissam, an independent Iraqi activist and Gay Star News. The campaign calls upon world leaders to take a stand on youth murders in Iraq.
In the first wave of the campaign, All Out has sent an email appeal to members.
The initial goal is to collect 100,000 signatures on a digital petition that reads: ‘right now, young people in Iraq are being murdered systematically – for the clothes they wear, or because they are perceived as “gay” or simply different from their peers.
For 2 months, the killing has gone under the radar and more than 50 people have faced a brutal death. We call on you to speak out publicly against the violence and use all tools in your control to condemn the killings and push Iraqi officials to investigate now.’
Following the reports over the massacres, San Francisco activists decided to carry out tomorrow (March 14th) the first offline manifestation: a vigil in solidarity with Iraqi emo and LGBT youth.
Michael Petrelis, one of the organizers posted on his blog ‘Gays Without Borders is taking to the streets of the Castro to send a message to Iraq’s government, clerics, militias and citizens: Stop killing gays, emos and goths.’
The demonstration’s main goal according to Petrelis is to 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.
‘At Castro and 18th Streets, the crossroads of gay America, we will display our “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 March 14 protest is endorsed by Clinton Fein, Tommi Avicolli Mecca, Melanie Nathan, Danny Nicoletta, Gary Virginia, Bill Wilson.’
WHAT: Vigil for Iraqi Gays, Emos and Goths;
WHEN: Wednesday, March 14;
TIME: 4pm – 6pm;
WHERE: Castro and 18th Streets, San Francisco;
According to Petrelis the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad has addressed a letter of support for the campaign.
The letter says ‘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 U.S. 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.’
Such action is very much needed and welcomed to put pressure on the decision makers to end this massacre, though activists are a bit skeptical and hope it won’t be deployed by the militias in a sense that endorses that being gay a western phenomenon increasing by that the crackdown on Iraqi youth.
Worthy to remind the said movement is preceded by last week United Nations high meeting in Geneva where big public headlines asserted the importance of respecting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bi and trans people around the world, and urging all member nations to take a stand. A call made by a rejection from Arab and African countries that walked out of the chamber.
Photos from the vigil can be found here.