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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > Issue 273 > It’s no Place to be Gay

It’s no Place to be Gay

Homosexuality may be legal in Iraq, but queer people are still ostracised by their family, harassed in the street and murdered by vigilantes. Amir Ashour is hoping to change all that...

Despite being Iraq’s only openly-gay LGBT activist, Amir Ashour has no concept of coming out. Opening up about his identity was a gradual process; personal safety and cultural attitudes meant he never felt compelled to make a grandiose statement about it. “We don’t even have Arabic or Kurdish words for coming out,” he points out, rejecting the notion he ever experienced that defining moment in his life.

Ashour is an anomaly, though. That he no longer lives in, or is allowed back into, his homeland is indicative of that.

The situation for LGBT Iraqis is bleak; a 2015 UN report highlighted the numerous human rights abuses that have taken place there. Put simply, living openly as an LGBT person is literally a matter of life and death. Local militias and government agents have a history of targeting queer people, and despite homosexuality not technically being illegal, religious extremists have carried out numerous public executions in recent years.

Parents turning against their children — often kicking them out of the family home — is still an all-too-common response to discovering the youngster’s sexual or gender identity. The climate is one of tremendous fear for Iraq’s LGBT community, so most of queer people remain very much in the closet.

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About Attitude

The Orlando attack is one of the most violent acts perpetrated against a gathered group of queer people in the West. Attitude presents a passionate analysis of the event, with guest writers from the Latin, Muslim, Christian, Black and Trans communities asking the question: What have we learned from Orlando? Elsewhere in this issue: Three years before Stonewall… there was the riot at Compton’s cafeteria in San Francisco. Attitude commemorates 50 years since the queer community fought back against an oppressive police force. 20 years of Girl Power. Spice Girl Emma Bunton recalls the highs and lows of life as part of the world’s most famous girl groups ever. Out gay Iraqi activist Amir Ashour on why he’ll never stop fighting for LGBT liberation in his homeland. Pop’s new sensation Shura on why she doesn’t want her music compartmentalized as a queer artist. Willam reveals why he has no love for RuPaul’s Drag Race.