Human Rights Watch released a report yesterday that indicates hundreds of Iraqi gay men have been kidnapped, tortured and murdered since the beginning of 2009. The report claims that Iraqi authorities have not acted to stop militias that are actively targeting men suspected of engaging in homosexual conduct and may be complicit in some attacks.
The report cites a militia member who told a reporter in May that the spike in anti-gay violence is to combat "a serious illness in the community that has been spreading rapidly among the youth after it was brought in from the outside by American soldiers. These are not the habits of Iraq or our community and we must eliminate them.... Our aim is not to destabilize the security situation. Our aim is to help stabilize society." However, Human Rights Watch researcher Rasha Moumneh says, "Murder and torture are no way to enforce morality.... These killings point to the continuing and lethal failure of Iraq's post-occupation authorities to establish the rule of law and protect their citizens."
The report includes interviews with many gay Iraqi men. One man told researchers: "They did many things to us, the Mahdi Army...They kidnapped [my partner] for six days. He will not talk about what they did to him. There were bruises on his side as if he was dragged on the street. They did things to him he can't describe, even to me.... They sent us veiled threats in text messages: 'You are on the list.' They sent him a piece of paper in an envelope, to his home: there were three bullets wrapped in plastic, of different size[s]. The note said, 'Which one do you want in your heart?'.... I want to be a regular person, lead a normal life, walk around the city, drink coffee on the street. But because of who I am, I can't. There is no way out."
Media Resources: Human Rights Watch Report 8/17/09; Human Rights Watch Press Release 8/17/09
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .