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**Updated** In Baghdad, Rep. Polis Calls on US, Iraqi Officials to Investigate Death of Gays in Iraq

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Washington, Apr 13, 2009 | comments
In response to recent reports of the death and persecution of gays in Iraq, Congressman Jared Polis (CO-2) called for an investigation into “egregious human rights violations” carried out against gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender (GLBT) Iraqis while meeting with US and Iraqi officials on a Congressional Delegation visit to Baghdad, Iraq this week.     

“The United States should not tolerate human rights violations of any kind, especially by a government that Americans spend billions of taxpayer dollars each year supporting,” said Polis.  “Hopefully my trip and letters to US and Iraqi officials will help bring international attention and investigation to this terrible situation and bring an end to any such offenses.”  

CNN and the New York Times have recently reported the increased violence against GLBT Iraqis and that Iraqi police have begun a crackdown on homosexuals — whose status is illegal in Iraq — and that influential clerics have urged that they be sought out and killed.

The first openly gay male elected to Congress as a freshman, Polis has been investigating human rights violations against GLBT Iraqis since before coming to Congress.  

Prior to his trip, an Iraqi human-rights advocacy group contacted Polis and forwarded him a letter written in jail by a man who said he was beaten into confessing he was a member of the gay-rights group Iraqi-LGBT. The group said the man had been sentenced to death in a court in Karkh, Iraq and executed.  (The group and the author's names are omitted for their protection.)  Polis also spoke through a translator by phone to a transgender Iraqi man who said he had been arrested, beaten, and raped by Ministry of Interior security forces.

In Baghdad, Polis met with the Iraqi Charges D’Affairs, members of the Iraqi Parliament's Human-Rights Committee, and US State Department officials in Baghdad, and gave them a letter outlining the allegations and urging their immediate investigation.  Thus far, the Charge D'Affaires has requested more documentation and the chance to speak with witnesses and victims.

"We will now wait and see whether the Iraqi government is serious about protecting the human rights of all Iraqis and what role our own State Department can play in helping to protect this minority in Iraq," said Polis.  “I am most disturbed by allegations that Iraqi government itself may be involved in the persecutions.  This warrants an immediate investigation from both American and Iraqi governments.”

Polis’ letter is available here.

**Since the publication of this press release, Rep. Jared Polis received a response from the Iraqi Charges D’Affairs, Patricia Butenis. Click here to read the letter.

Additionally, Rep. Jared Polis, along with Rep. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Barney Frank, have sent a letter to Iraqi Ambassador Christopher Hill. The letter is available here.**


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