I can vouch for the character of Ali Hili, who is a campaigner based in London and assists Peter Tatchell regularly with his campaigns on LGBT issues in the Middle East.
GPRC International Friend/LGBT Group International Officer
Dear Friend of Iraqi LGBT
We are writing to you in an urgent appeal for help because we currently face a critical situation in our efforts to assist lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people in Iraq.
Since the US invasion of Iraq, Gay people in Iraq have suffered particularly intense persecution. Violence against all the gay community has intensified sharply since late 2005, when Iraq's leading Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, issued a fatwa (religious decree) which declared that gays and lesbians should be "killed in the worst, most severe way." Since then, LGBT people have been specifically targeted by the Madhi Army (the militia of fundamentalist Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr) as well as by other militant death squads. There are even credible reports of gay men being arrested and executed by the Iraqi police. The United Nations and the US State Department have issued reports documenting some of the more recent killings. It is impossible to document precisely how many gay, trans gender and lesbian have been killed in Iraq as a result of their sexuality, but we have specific knowledge of hundreds of cases, and every LGBT individual in Iraq is currently in severe danger.
Since 2006, Friends of Iraqi LGBT has been trying to help by funding safe houses in Iraq for individuals, who have come to the attention of the death squads and who have consequently had to flee their homes. We have also been providing financial assistance to assist LGBT individuals in particularly dangerous areas of Iraq to move to relatively safer parts of the country, or even to seek refuge abroad.
Now, however, we are facing a critical situation regarding funding. The need is rising, and unless more financing can be raised immediately, a number of safe houses will have to close by the end of this month, putting dozens of vulnerable people at risk of execution.
We are therefore appealing to you for a donation. Any amount, no matter how small, could save a life. For example, the cost of funding the rent on a safe house is approximately £900 a month - £400 for rent (typically paid three months in advance), £200 for the salaries of two armed guards (an essential part of the security arrangements) and £300 per month for gas, fuel for electricity generators, food, clean drinking water, hygienic supplies and the like. Additionally, most of the safe houses are terribly short of essentials like bedding and cooking utensils. Each safe house typically looks after 10-12 individuals at a time, so you can see that the cost of protecting a life in Iraq is really very small.
We currently fund five safe houses with guards, but several of these will have to shut imminently unless we can step up our funding. Moreover, we have recently been receiving daily requests for new assistance from various cities in Iraq, and most of the time we are unable to help because of lack of funds. Ideally, we would also like to pay for HIV medicines for a number of positive Iraqis, but at the moment we are not able to afford this.
You can help make a difference in this tragic situation by making a donation via the Friends of Iraqi LGBT website:
Alternatively, you can send a cheque or money order to (K. Sahi), 13 Campden Hill Mansions, Edge Street, London, W8 7PL, United Kingdom.
All monies received are channelled directly to safe houses in Iraq.
Many of us are lucky enough to live in countries which celebrate basic human rights and guarantee the security of their LGBT citizens. But what if this were not the case? Please take a moment to think what it would be like if you personally were at risk of execution simply because of your sexuality, simply because of who you are. We ask for your support for those less fortunate than yourself.
Friends of Iraqi LGBT and our brothers and sisters in Iraq thank you in advance for your help.
PLEASE FORWARD THIS MESSAGE TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS .
13 Campden Hill Mansions
London, United Kingdom