Sunday, July 23, 2006

Egos and the Gay Division Over How to Treat Iran

I found this excellent article on the July 19 protests against Iran in the Gay City News. It says a lot, and made me realize that I still have a lot to say about the issue. The quotes are long, but I think it's worth reading, and I put time into the commentary. A quote:

A year later, as dozens of cities worldwide, including New York, held vigils July 19 to mark the anniversary of the executions, HRW has hardened in its insistence that there is no support for the charge that the Mashad men were killed because of their sexuality. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) offers a more agnostic assessment, saying that Iran must clear the air but also warning against inflammatory actions by LGBT activists that could worsen conditions for gays there.

Despite a skeptical stance that has persisted, IGLHRC initially stepped up to organize New York’s July 19 vigil, but in the wake of a scathing memo last week from HRW’s gay rights specialist Scott Long criticizing the accuracy, rhetoric, and motivations of anti-Iran activists, IGLHRC abruptly dropped its sponsorship.

Instead, IGLHRC joined HRW and other groups including the Al-Fatiha Foundation, a group for gay Muslims, in hosting a competing forum at New York’s LGBT Community Center, scheduled at the same time as the vigil in front of the Iranian Mission to the United Nations.
And another:

Early reports on the Mashad executions last July quickly caught the attention of Peter Tatchell, the head of the militant LGBT rights group Outrage! in London, and was picked up by conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan as well as by Ireland, who posted his first story on his Web site prior to covering the story for Gay City News. Tatchell and Sullivan—but not Ireland—used the term “Islamo-fascist” in describing the Iranian regime, a hawkish formulation that raised red flags among human rights activists unwilling to align themselves with right-wing Western critiques of the Muslim world and Bush foreign policy adventuring (though on that score Tatchell was an unlikely bedfellow).
And another:

Those who disagree with Long question whether it is he who has been uncritical—in accepting official Iranian accounts of the executions. When the story broke, he sent an unsolicited e-mail to Gay City News saying, “It is reasonably certain they were executed for sexual assault on a 13-year-old” and told Ireland that HRW was “90 percent sure” rape had taken place. Yet, Hadi Ghaemi, the group’s Iran expert, said that certainty was based on one source, a story in the newspaper Qud, controlled by regime supporters. Months later, according to Ireland, Long e-mailed him that the group had additional sources for its view.

Another point Long made in his memorandum last week is that those who believe the Mashad executions were based in homophobia are “imputing a Westernized ‘gay’ identity on these youths,” the suggestion being that a level of cultural insensitivity and naiveté is involved. That perspective was echoed by a number of panelists at the IGLHRC forum Wednesday evening, most passionately by Iranian-American filmmaker Kouross Esmaeli, who voiced harsh criticism of Gay City News reporting about his homeland.

Yet in at least four stories Ireland has written since last September, based on interviews with Iranians still in their homeland or in exile—Amir, a 22-year-old gay exile in Turkey (, Sam, a 28-year-old gay exile in Pakistan (, Mekabiz, a self-described “transsexual man” still living in Mashad (, and Mani, a 24-year-old gay man living in an Iranian city he was afraid to disclose (—he has demonstrated there are young people there who talk about their sexual and gender identity in ways many Americans would understand. It is, in part, this increasingly Westernized identity that Iranian authorities use torture and worse to stamp out. This is the reporting Long acknowledged was “authentic and compelling.”

Based on this reporting and other sources who told him so directly, Ireland wrote that Ahmadinejad had stepped up repression of gays when he assumed the presidency last year. The assault on gay Iranians amounts to a pogrom, Ireland concluded. Borrowing the term used to describe the episodic ouster and genocide aimed at Jews throughout European history was bound to stir controversy and clearly some believe more detailed documentation is required.

Long explained his discomfort with the characterization. “Crying wolf is a bad strategy for achieving change,” he wrote last week. “Because if human rights advocates don’t deal in facts instead of speculation, they lose all credibility in future crises… These misrepresentations actually work against the interests of Iranian asylum-seekers… and could play into the hands of the Iranian government if these claims are proven wrong.”

One more:

Asked to explain her group’s abrupt bailout from leadership of the New York July 19 vigil, [IGLHRC Executive Director Paula] Ettelbrick voiced concern that the protests worldwide might have an “inflammatory” impact on the Iran situation, creating a link between gay life there and a Western agenda in the regime’s eyes.

“I wanted to make sure that our participation was consistent with our approach,” she explained. “What can we do to be effective? The name of Peter’s group is Outrage! The name of our group is the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.”
How do I begin? This article truly is excellent - it expertly outlines the divide in gay activist between bullish revolutionaries and tiptoed precautionaries.

I have said before that I think Tatchell and Sullivan hold extreme views, and their irresponsible use of "Islamo-fascist" reaffirms that. I've also said that the protests might make not make things better for gay people in Iran, but I don't think it'll make it worse. I really don't think Iran's regime would confuse the West's opposition to it getting nuclear technology with gay rights organizatiosn protesting the hanging of gay teenagers - the may equivalate the two publicly, but that's propaganda, and they would do that anyway, regardless of the protests.

It was wrong for IGLHRC, HRW, and the Al-Fatiha Foundation to hold a competing event. If you disagree with another gay group's actions, it's fine to say so. It's also fine to abstain from supporting them, or distribute materials which contradict their stances. These groups, however went beyond that. The groups in the vigil, a lot of which had Iranian support, were there for a good cause. It's one thing to say they're overreacting, but another to vehemently oppose them.

IGLHRC acted like a cowardly dog, shying away in fear rather than barking at danger. It's overtly clear that they acted out of pressure from Long, rather than of their own accord. Sure, they don't want to overreact (evidenced by Ettelbrick's inane comparison of organization names), but if this is not a time for action what is? Are two young lives not enough? Many similar cases have been reported. Would 50 be enough? 100? How many does she need? I, personally, side with the groups supporting the protests, for I've seen numerous Iranian sources that side with them, but none that oppose them (Al-Fatiha doesn't really count).

It's also clear that the entire debate overstepped the boundaries of being about Iran. Many of the participants in the dialogue, especially Long, seem to have gotten their egos mixed up in their politics. All the name-calling and verbal attacks are dispicable. Throughout the article, it becomes increasingly clear that the players are less concerned with learning the truth than they are about being right, which is absolutely shameful. Long, for example, seems to have less facts than the rest of them, but is more adament than they are - how does that work?

Long does make one semi-germane point, though. It's true about what he says about crying wolf. If the sources are proven wrong, it would be detrimental to the human rights movement, gay people in Iran, asylum seekers, etc. But proving the claims wrong is as about as likely as solving the Bermuda Triangle mysteries. It's extremely doubtful that all these Iranian sources are in a huge conspiracy to fraud the human rights movement, or that they are wrong. Even if it's not a "pogrom", it's still horrifying.

I guess it all boils down to the word "pogrom". Are the killings in Iran really worse than the killings in Saudi Arabia? Or the torture in Egypt? Probably not. "Pogrom" just makes them seem worse than the others, because it envisions the Jewish holocaust. So, in effect, gay activists went from arguing about the extremity of gay persecution in Iran to its validity, as if disproving a "pogrom" would invalidate everything.

As a final note, I hate what Long says about "imputing a Westernized ‘gay’ identity on these youths", which is a steaming pile of donkey-#$%@. Islamists are putting a gay identity on people in the Middle East just as much as the West is. Gay people in the Middle East didn't experience the current level of persecution until the 1990s, when the gay movement began to gain momentum in the West. Why? It's simple - Islamists want to distance the East from the West. By showing how gay the West is, and how gay the East isn't, they accomplish their goal. Why do you think there has been so much coverage of gay marriage in Western nations? Gay people are a group that evokes relatively little sympathy in the Middle East, and are an easy target for the Islamists. The current crackdowns targeting gay people are merely an extension of the Islamist vs. Western Imperialism battle that has been raging for decades. Islamists superimpose the term "gay" just as much as Westerners, and it's uninformed - and a bit ethnocentric - to say otherwise. (This is going to have to be another post; I have loads to say about this.)


Blogger MechanicalCrowds said...

Couldn't read it... Centered font is just... well... gay!

July 24, 2006 3:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a designer I have to agree. The centered text is very distracting.

I hope you continue with your perspective.



July 24, 2006 8:20 AM  
Blogger QArab said...


As an Arab American activist here in the states, our group (GLAS) also joined Al Fatiha and others in boycoting that process. You see, we were very concerned with the ulterior motives of the organizers of the demonstration.

In the past, we have had many "activists" appear at our events and try to hijack things to push their own agendas. When we were protesting the Cairo "Queen Boat" case, we were surprised to see so many politicians and activists joining our rank.. only to find that later that they were only interested to use our cause as a platform to bash Arab culture and promote a harder line vis a vis our people. As Arab-American activist we have to walk a very fine line between pushing for Human Rights reform in our original countries, while dealing with a very well oiled and effective anti-Arab system here. Simply put, we cannot allow people to use our cause to bash our own people. We are gay, but we are also Arabs, Lebanese, Palestinians, etc etc.

Whenever I hear activists using terms like "Islamic Fascism", that's usually a red flag, for that term has been embraced and used by the extreme right wing here and the neo-cons. Many of the people behind the Iran protests have a questionable history... and not just on our issues.

What's also interesting, is unlike Scott Long, these guys never gave a shit about Arabs until this case...which really makes us question their motives. After over a decade of activism in that community, I can pretty much tell who is a friend and who is a foe. And believe me when I tell you.. Scott Long is one the best friends Gay Arabs have.

I have know Scott for years and I have seen him work his ass on our behalf. Going to Cairo during the Queen Boat case and visiting prisoners, lawyers, confronting cops and much more.

I think his point about validating claims on the Iran case makes perfect sense. HRW has never backed away from protest, however things need to be confirmed properly, otherwise you loose credibilty.

Living in Amman, I don't think you truly realize the intense anti-Islam/anti-Arab environment we have here in the US. Our enemies are many (including many in the gay community) and our friends are few. I, for one, am glad Scott Long and HRW are on our side.

July 24, 2006 5:45 PM  
Blogger QArab said...

and one more note...

A day before the Iran protest, there was a massive demonstration called for by various Lebanese and Arab organizations to protest outside the Israeli embassy.

I personally outreached to various gay activists and groups to join us. I specifically reached out to organizers of the Iran protest including Doug Ireland and Andy Humm.

No one from that group showed up. Their absence spoke volumes.

July 24, 2006 6:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what, pray tell, did those volumes say? And, by the way, was Scott Long there at the demo? Was Paula Ettlebrick?

"I think his point about validating claims on the Iran case makes perfect sense."

Would you care to explain what you mean by "validating." Now don't go running to the Scott Long playbook for the answer, what do you think is a legitimate validation? Would you also take the word of Quds, the state controlled media? Or would you rather take the word of gay people in Iran, some of whom knew Asgai and Marhoni?

The organizers of the actions spanned the political spectrum from far right to far left. Almost all, including myself, disavowed any US military intervention in Iran. Organizers were free to choose the nature of their city's event and the demands their action might insist upon. These ranged from simply, "Iran: Stop killing gays! Stop killing kids!" to five points proposed by Outrage!

1. End all executions in Iran, especially the execution of minors.

2. Stop the arrest, torture and imprisonment of Iranian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and repeal the Iranian penal code’s criminalisation of same-sex relationships.

3. Halt the deportation to Iran of LGBT asylum seekers and other victims of Tehran’s persecution.

4. Support Iranians struggling for democracy, social justice and human rights.

5. Oppose foreign military intervention in Iran; regime change must come from within – by and for the Iranian people themselves.

Qarab, do you need me to re-phrase point number five? Do you get the part about opposing any military intervention in Iran and allowing the Iranian people to determine their own future?

This was a grassroots thing with no big organizations involved, then to my utter shock, revulsion and dismay Scott Long and Paula Ettlebrick were commenting in the emails circulated between the organizers. There was no way Scott was going to grab headlines, so he immediately started making personal attacks on the activists involved. When personal attacks subsequently started heading in Scottie's direction he screeched like a little baby with a crapped diaper.

I had nothing but respect for Scott Long before he shot off his self-righteous mouth about the evils of staging 27 peaceful vigils about GLBT rights in Iran and around the world, that happen to occur on the anniversary of the deaths of Asgari and Marhoni. Whether they were gay, straight, rapists or strictly engaged in consensual sex, like it or not, they became a symbol for state-sponsored persecution of GLBT people on 19 July 2005.

Would you prefer that a day in each coming year was not set aside for gay people around the world to think about what happens to our less fortunate bothers and sisters living in countries with horribly repressive laws pertaining to sexual preference and gender identity and possibly to be motivated to do something? If you do, you're a freaking psycho. Are you willing to wait for Ahmadinejad to whisper to Quds, the Iranian state controlled media and by extension Scott Long, that he is guilty of repressing and murdering gay people before you will take the word of gay Iranian people from HOMAN or PGLO?

Also, what the hell is this quasi-racist litmus test you're suggesting that only people who took a stand on Arab gay rights before 19 July 2005 are entitled to an opinion or to support other gay people around the world trapped in an oppressive political culture? Please do explain. Explain it to the people in Mexico City and Bogota who staged 19 July events. Explain to the Dutch and the Irish, who shut down traffic in Dublin in the name of human rights for GLBT people around the world. Explain to the organizers in Moscow and Poland who just weathered oppressive state-sponsored crackdowns on basic human rights for gay people.

Scott Long thought it was absolutely fabu to go to Moscow and confront soviet homophobia, as long as the conservative Washington Gay Blade would give him a platform to immortalize himself as a temporary blogger. Forget that Russian gay people would have to live with the consequences of outspoken carpetbaggers (google it) like Scott Long.

July 24, 2006 8:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here's two video clips from the forum organized by Human Rights Watch and IGLHRC on the day of the vigil

I haven't seen ANY of the gay bloggers put a link to it ... but logic and debate is not what these guys are interested in. They are fighting Islamo-Fascism even if it means putting the lives of gay folks in danger. Gay City News certainly doesn't come out ahead, and nor do the gay freedomn fighters. As much as folks want to make this a simple issue, fact is that most middle eastern people in the US (gay and otherwise) don't trust the politics of these white men (gay and otherweise) Petrelis, Sullivan and Ireland included. The NYC rally was 99% white male and mostly above the age of 50. Figure it out

July 24, 2006 9:40 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

>> here's two video clips from the forum organized by Human Rights Watch and IGLHRC on the day of the vigil

my reply: Neither HRW nor IGLHRC have linked to this video:
Is it asking too much of those groups to link to the tapes?

>> I haven't seen ANY of the gay bloggers put a link to it

My reply: Not only do I link to the videos on my blog, , but I also use a photo of the panelists.

I notice that the messages defending Scott Long and HRW here fail to mention how PGLO endorsed the July 19 actions, fail to state that Arsham Parsi staged a meeting in Toronto on this day, and fail to say that gay Iranians in Tehran themselves lit candles.

This statement >>Many of the participants in the dialogue, especially Long, seem to have gotten their egos mixed up in their politics.<<
really sums up what so much of problem was related to July 19 -- Scott Long's massive ego and his self-appointed role as gatekeeper on ALL gay global issues.

Sad to see Scott does not see any need to curb his ego for the good of gays around the world, in Iran and for activism.

July 24, 2006 9:56 PM  
Blogger Maman Poulet said...

I would be interested in hearing Al-Fil's response to Qarab's comments. I am not arabic, middle eastern or islamic but I found parts of it very patronising... It reminds me early 1990's english queer activists or irish americans trying to lecture irish activists on how things should be done. There was no Islamic Fascism in Dublin at the protest here.

July 25, 2006 12:35 AM  
Blogger Maman Poulet said...

PS. Pursia, the protest in Dublin attended by approx 250 peple was organised by a group of young people under 21 and attended by people of all ages/gender. But you'd probably say they were misguided or something in your rush to label/judge. Senator Daivid Norris told the crowd that the Iranian Ambassador to Iran laughed when he was asked to explain the executions at a recent appearance before an Irish Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee.

July 25, 2006 2:11 AM  
Blogger Al-Fil said...

Dear suzy,

Let's see, you want to hear my comments, well here they are:

I understand that in protests against governmental activities in Middle Eastern countries, there will invariably be politicians and such that will jump on the bandwagon, salivating at the opportunity to criticize Islamic governments, Islamic culture, and Islamic people. But isn't there an American expression about a few bad apples?

A few people abusing the protests and vigils to spread vicious anti-Islamic rhetoric does not decimate the good that the demonstrations can do. Sure, it may give them a little material for their arguments, but if they don't find it there' they'll find it somewhere else. Stopping a protest will not stop anti-Islamic zealots. But holding a protest will bring attention to a very important issue.

Before Ireland's reporting, there was little talk about what's going on in Iran. I admit that there is a chance that the boys were truly guilty of, and executed for, the crimes the Iranian government claims. But the Iranian government is not known for telling open truths.

I think that the immense contradictions in the government's case provide more than enough doubt to the validity of the charges.

Even if they didn't, however, it is clear from interviews with gay men in Iran that there is certainly a problem in Iran, and many gay people are suffering. And I believe the interviews are true.

Of course, the reporting is second-hand, but how can it not be? How can a Western journalist go to Iran and see firsthand the discrimination and torture? Would Iran allow it? How can a gay Iranian write publicly of his experiences? Would he survive? In a country such as Iran, you will never get "proper confirmation", and you have to rely a bit on gut. Does your gut tell you that gay people are safe in Iran? Honestly?

I don't deny that Scott Long really cares about gay people, but I think Doug Ireland does, too. I think it's extremely clear, however, that many of the people involved in this case have let their egos get the best of them.

The videos that were referenced above point to the first Iranian voices against the protests I've seen. (I'm going from the comments on the blog their hosted on; I can't open the files on this computer). They weren't against the protests because they doubt the persecution, but because they feel that it could actually hurt gay people in Iran rather than help. I have still yet to see a gay Iranian solidly refute the allegations of governmental abuse.

I don't think the protests will do harm, as I've said many times. Anti-gay leaders in the East can connect gay people to the West without the West's help.

As for the anti-Israel-Lebanon-war protests, I think it's extremely unfortunate that the groups did not show up, but I don't think it damages their reputation regarding the situation in Iran.

July 25, 2006 2:34 AM  
Blogger libhom said...

It sounds like some of the people opposing the protests are under the impression that the protests will change sentiment regarding Iran's government in the US. If this is the case, it is a mistaken perception. Americans made up their minds about the Islamic Republic long before 911, not just before this protest.

Also, for many American queers, there have been reports for decades about repression against queers in the Middle East. When somebody finally organized a protest, people jumped at the chance.

July 25, 2006 3:25 AM  
Blogger Red Tulips said...

Okay, I just want to say this...

How is it "Islamophobic" to call something like what it is? As a matter of fact, there IS a problem with Islamofacism in the world. And Islamofacism is a huge problem for gay rights.

Now I don't believe the Koran is something that inherently is good or evil (I view it as similar to the bible), but the way it is interpreted by Islamofacists is truly evil - and gives Islam a bad name.

Al-Fil: Can you honestly deny the existence of Islamofacism in the world? Hezbollah is an example of Islamofacism. Hamas is another example. These groups, in addition to being horrible towards the Jews, also are horrible towards gays. And so the fundamental TRUTH is that the gays and Jews have a common enemy. And yet there is obviously also the discomfort of being a gay Muslim and uniting with Jews on any common ground - you are branded a traitor. And hence gays will naturally be hated even more by Islamofacists - as potential traitors!

Then, because of the natural sympathy that Israelis will have with gay Palestinians, there have been documented cases of Israelis abusing this. The whole thing sucks, I realize!

I understand this all, and I sympathize. But that doesn't invalidate the fact that Islamofacism exists. And it doesn't invalidate the fact that, ultimately, the cause of the gay Muslim is intrinsically connected to the cause of Israelis and the West - the ellimination of Islamofacism. That's why I wonder if, in time, you will be happy that Hezbollah is gone - assuming Lebanon is rebuilt. (but then, Lebanon has a history of being bombed and then rebuilt - it has an amazing and beautiful spirit!)

What should be encouraged above all else is thinking and common understanding. This is something that this blog engages in - thinking - and for that, I applaud you.

July 25, 2006 4:22 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Very happy you no longer center your text, which was hard on my eyes. Thanks for doing the justify-left layout. Love your site. Glad I found it.

July 25, 2006 6:08 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

For the latest report and photos from July 19 cites, go here: /

And if that URL is not linking, go to my opening page, then scroll down, down, down for all the photos: .

July 25, 2006 6:11 AM  
Blogger manoverbored said...

IGLHRC and HRW have done a lot more for the cause of justice and equality for LGBT people worldwide than many of their most vocal recent critics. I am pretty appalled at the amount of vitriol being directed at these two organizations for taking what is, even if you disagree with it, at least an understandable position - that we should protest instances of injustice for the right reasons, and be well informed of the facts.

I can see an argument on the other side too, that the two Iranian boys (Asgari and Marhoni?), whatever the actual circumstances of their arrest and execution, have become symbols of victims of LGBT persecution in Iran, even within Iran itself.

It sort of reminds me of the Matthew Shepard case a little bit. There were all these questions about the details, like did they really target him because he was gay? Did they beat him up to rob him? Did he come on to them? Not that any of these things MATTER, it is still WRONG to beat up and leave a person for dead NO MATTER YOUR MOTIVATION, just as I believe the death penalty is wrong, no matter the motivation.

So I guess the question is - in politics, how important is the truth of specific events, or what really happened, compared to the "truth" of popular feeling/perception?

July 25, 2006 9:50 AM  
Blogger Al-Fil said...

A few comments, in no particular order:

First, the center-justify thing was an accident. I was missing an end-bracket. It looked fine in Internet Explorer, so I never noticed it. It was only in Firefox that it wa messed up. I knw nothing about html, so it took forever to fix ;)

Second, I don't deny the existence of so-called "Islamo-fascists". But I hate the term, and I don't think it's useful or correct. It takes entities like Hamas, Hizbullah, and the governments of Iran and Saudi Arabia out of context, lumping them together in a collective enemy. It is also too simplistic. Members of Hamas and Hizbullah are the way that are for specific cultural and historical reasons - they are not evil entities that came out of a void, and Israel is not blameless in their creation. The term "Islamo-fascist" dehumanizes these people. I don't think militant wings of Hamas and Hizbullah are evil, just misguided. When they state their case politically, they often have very valid points.

"Islamo-fascist" is a term too eaily employed to disregard the standpoint of resistance groups, like "terrorist". It's used to breed hatred of Islam and Arabs. It's not fair to call all Israelis "Zionists", why shouldn't the same standard be applied to Arabs?

These comments should not be taken to be in support of the actions of Hamas and Hizbullah, but not against them either.

July 25, 2006 7:01 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hello MingerspiceSF,

You seem quite familiar with the work of IGLHRC and HRW, and I agree they have done great work in the past, but can you tell me please when was the last time they tried to organize any sort of coordinated campaign about any country's abuses of gay? Or when was the last time these two groups attempted to get gays around the globe into the street on ANY issue?


July 25, 2006 7:33 PM  
Blogger Red Tulips said...


I do not see any justification for the backwards Jihad of Hezbollah, Hamas, or Iran. I only see anti-progress, anti-thought, and hate.

I fail to see why I should be P.C. about it and call it anything other than Islamofacism. But maybe I am missing something? I honestly am curious what you think I am missing.

July 26, 2006 1:42 AM  
Blogger manoverbored said...

Hi michael,

While I am not an expert on their operations by any means, I believe that IGLHRC and HRW do not work directly on grassroots organizing, but rather work to support grassroots work done by LGBT organizations and communities in various countries and internationally. They also write reports and press releases that raise awareness of what is happening with regards to LGBT issues internationally, and are useful to politicians and activists who want to change things for the better.

IGLHRC also has an asylum program that compiles country reports (documenting country conditions for LGBT people) to assist LGBT refugees and asylum-seekers.

You can also visit their websites to get more information about what issues they are currently working on and what other things they do:
HRW's LGBT rights page

Hope that helps.

July 26, 2006 4:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

miss r

Islam is a beautiful religion... and the fact that one chooses to use an ugly word like fascism in association with islam is very disturbing... very very disturbing.

think about Jewish Fascism, or Christian Fascism... not pretty terms. And yes, some Christians and Jews were involved in horrible terrorist acts, but doesn't mean we paint an entire religion by their acts. You never hear the media refering to Christian Fascism when talking about Pat Robertson of Operation Rescue or the Oklahoma Bombings.. You'll never hear the term JudeoFacism when talking about Qana or Gaza... So, out of respect for religions.. all religions, we try to stay away from such terms.

Now, some pundits here in the US have embraced the term "islamofascists"... people like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reiley and Ann Coulter.. among others. As you may know, they belong to an extreme right wing mindset. Many pro-Israelis neo-cons have also adopted that term... thus, we can pretty much tell where a person is coming from their usage of such terminology.

are you a neo con? a zionist? it's ok, you can be helped.. it's not too late.

July 26, 2006 6:28 AM  
Blogger QArab said...


HRW has been very involved with helping gays in the middle east. However, unlike the street tactics that you seem to favor, they get it right.. they work behind the scenes, in the political corridors to achieve change. (which they have)

When gays were busted in Cairo, HRW was there. When Gays were busted in the UAE and threatned with hormone shots, HRW was there.

Mike.. I've known you for years..back in the days of ACT-UP.. and back then, I admired your tactics..heck, I even had a crush on you, you hot greek man, you.. I marched with you in DC, I was with you when you went into the Mexican embassy to protest their gay policies..

But now things have have changed... at a time when millions of us are alive and well because of HIV medeicne, you choose to embrace the HIV deniers... you have also aligned yourself with some of the extremists in the house, the same people who would wish us dead. Your tactics have made you a pariah in San Francisco, and it simply doesn't work anymore...

I am not sure why you seem to have a sudden interest in Middle East issues?? Have you run out of causes here? will no one put you on camera or microphone that you have to seek an alternative for your spotlight??

This is a region that frankly, I don't think you much about. Judging from your rhetoric, it seems you have adopted the US media mentality of absolutes... "us vs. them"... bad vs. good... the evil empire.. how 80's.. how Reagan...

Things in our neck of the wood are much more different...more complex.. the concept of the individual and civil freedoms is barely existing. To simplify matters and put them in a Stonewall mindset is pure ignorance. We work within a family/tribal system to induce may be slow, but it works. In your face type tactics can only serve to harm us here.. it fuels the extermists and pushes further to the margins.

Change is happening in the region and it's happening because of people on the inside.. it's happening in Beirut.. Dubai, Cairo, Amman and other capitals. Please don't assume that your perception of being somehow "advanced" puts you in a position to know better about our needs and system. That can only bring us harm.

If you really want to help, stick to what you know best.. the good old US of A. I believe there is plenty to be done here that you ought to be outraged about... Bush's veto on Stem Cell research which could have helped in HIV research... the death penalty (including minors) in states like FL and TX (why go all the way to Iran??), the NY State Supreme Court opposing gay marriage, the introduction of "intelligent design" as a valid theory in KS schools, etc. etc.

Finally, if you are still interested in helping us.. queers in the middle east.. pick up the phone.. call your senator (is it still Feinstein?) and demand that she calls for a cease fire in Lebanon. Better yet, why not post a call on your blog asking your reader to call their representative...

we are dying here... do you really think that a US made Israeli bomb can distinguish between gay or straight?

July 26, 2006 6:51 AM  
Blogger QArab said...

Miss R

Why is it that pro-Israeli activists are somehow convinced that Gay Arabs (and other minorities) are likely to denounce their own and embrace their racist little zionist state?

Do you really think that just because I'm gay I'm more likely to have things in common with "jews" (read zionists).

Note, I refuse to buy into the Israel=Jews rhetoric... Israel=Zionism.. and that's a racist colonialist ideology whose time has past. Judaism is a beautiful religion (like all others) which for the last century or so had been tainted by the cancer that is Zionism.

You refer to Hizbullah and Hamas as "islamofascists"... well, excuse me if I don't buy into your simplistic Fox News view of the world. Fact is that these groups are part of us.. they are not some aliens from out of space... these are our brothers, sisters, parents, etc. So, to assume that we will walk away from our own folks and embrace your messed up fascist regime just because of our sexual identity is soooo messed up and frankly insulting.

Being gay is only a part of our identity.. but we are also Arabs, Lebanese, Palestinians, etc. etc. and frankly, while we may not agree with Hizbullah's positions on many things, thanks to Israel's behavior for the last couple of weeks, we are now all in support of Hizbullah... Gay or Straight, Christian, Jewish or Moslem.

Did you seriously believe that by bombing the hell out of our city, killing hundreds of civilians, destroying our infrastructure, that we would turn around and blame Hizbullah??

If anything, Israel's actions now may have made it harder for Gay activists to operate in Lebanon. Those actions will give more voice to the religious groups, and less to the liberals and progressive voices.

Yet we remain on the side of our people, first and foremost.

Besides, it's not like Israel is that much of a gay haven... last I heard they were setting up cash bounties for those that can kill gays (check my blog for that story..)

July 26, 2006 7:05 AM  
Blogger QArab said...


What I would like to understand about the Iran protest is this... why now? why Iran?

Clearly the case we are talking about has not been proven that it is related to gays, despite what some individuals with quesitonable motives may say...

On the other hand, gays are still being persecuted in other countries in the region, yet those activists don't seem to care about that.

Gays in Saudi Arabia for instance are routinely caught, thrown in jail and mistreated... recently, Gays in the UAE have also witnessed harrassment and jail. Both these coutries are seen as "allies" of the US in the region.. so, where was the outrage form Outrage and similar groups?

Is it the issue of capital punishment? well then, there plenty to protest at from Saudi Arabia to Texas.. so, why Iran and why now?

Is this some lame attempt at getting lefties to stay silent in case of a US actions against Iran? I hope not and I doubt it will work...

With so many outrageous acts of homophobia all over the world, from Africa to Latin America... why the sudden interest from some activists in the US and UK community to target Iran over a case with little and vague evidence? activists that have identifies in one way or another with neo-cons (Andrew Sullivan, Andy Humm) and other right wing politicians (Michael Petrelis).

On a side note.. did you know that Israel was using Palestinian children as human shields in Gaza today (
probably the same ages of the child that was raped in Iran... I'm sure a lot of these so-called activists will be making a lot of noise about that.

July 26, 2006 7:17 AM  
Blogger Red Tulips said...

Btw, I changed my name to Red Tulips - I used to be Miss R!


I am not asking that you abandon your identity at all. But the fact remains that the Jewish cause is tied to the gay cause. I realize it must be heart wrenching for you, but it's true.

I never said there are not Christian facists and Jewish facists, but these people do not go around suicide bombing. They don't go around beheading. And they are not engaging in mass terror movements around the world. There is only one group that does that - Islamofacists.

This doesn't mean that I think Islam itself is evil - if I did, I would not call it Islamofacism, I would call it "Islamism" or merely Islam. In a way, you should be happy that I am calling it Islamofacist!

The fact that you can justify the actions of Hezbollah, Hamas, and other terror groups is disgusting. You do realize they would like to see you dead, right? You do realize that it would be in your INTEREST to be anti-Islamofacist.

And yet, saying you are anti-Islamofacist does not mean going against your identity! After all, there are groups such as the American Islamic Congress out there that are fighting the fight against Islamofacism, and still consider themselves Muslim. Fighting Islamofacism would, I think, bring you closer to Islam, if anything.

And yes I am a Zionist. But that does not mean I am a racist. In fact, I consider anti-zionism to be racism.

July 26, 2006 2:07 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Throughout the July 19 controversy the Al Fatiha has remained silent, at least on its Yahoo groups site: / . Seems odd to me that Al Fatiha has nothing to say about all the issues taht have been under debate around the world related to July 19's actions, gay Iranians and global organizing.


July 26, 2006 3:40 PM  
Blogger Al-Fil said...

Dear red tulips,

I'm sorry, I don't see how the Jewish cause is tied to the gay seems too forced to me. There are plenty of pro-gay activsts who are anti-Israel, and vice-versa. Why should they be tied together? They are not ighting for the same things. They do not shae common history. I don't see it at all.

And as for Islamo-fascism: why are these groups considered fascist? You ally them with the governments of Hitler, and Mussolini, but is that just?

Every time there is an attack that doesn't fit into the nation-state rubric, it's considered terrorism. The term "Islamo-fascism" simpliies the resistance into a void, as i it comes fom blind hate. It doesn't. The hatred for Israel, in the Hizbullah militia, comes from decades of occupation, territorial infringement, imprisonment without charge, Israeli spy networks, illegal surveillance, and many other infractions of the Israeli government. But because Hizbullah is not a nation-state, it's considered terrorist. The media portrays the current conflict as starting with the abduction of the two soldiers, but that doesn't take it back far enough.

Hizbullah and Hamas fight the way they do because they have no other option - they don't have armies, tanks, or planes. When Israel kills civilians with an airs strike, it's self defense. When Hamas kills civilians with a suicide bomb, it's terrorism. I'm sorry, but that's not realistic: both acts are done for the same rationale of self-preservation at all costs.

"Islamo-fascism" strips the resistance of its rationale and humanity. They may employ incredibly wrong, horrible tactics, but they have valid reasons to resist Israel. "Islamo-fascism" makes them seem crazy, which they certainly aren't.

In my view, you're more likely to get Hizbullah and Hamas to change their views if you understand them first, which no one is trying to do. No one has wanted to fix the issues that Hizbullah brings to the table - that's why Hizbullah still exists.

July 26, 2006 4:06 PM  
Blogger Al-Fil said...


"Why now, why Iran?" is a very good question. I don't know why Iran is chosen now - Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq all have major infractions as well.

I don't necessarily think there's large ulterior motives, though. I mean, politics are fickle. Why do the Tibetans get so much sympathy and the Chechens so little?

Some causes get a lot of attention, and some get a little. The Iran gay protests probably did get a little momentum from the current political atmosphere regarding Iran, but that doesn't make them less valid.

And it is true that change, especially in the Islamic World, needs to come from the interior family/tribal system. But in places where change is happening, like Beirut, it's a mixture of both that and the Western notion of activism. Both systems of activism have a place in the modernizing Islamic World.

Plus, what is outside? If Iranian expatriates protest Iran, is that outside meddling?

July 26, 2006 4:21 PM  
Blogger QArab said...

Plus, what is outside? If Iranian expatriates protest Iran, is that outside meddling?

Of course not.. but, that's precisely what went wrong with those recent protest.. it was primarily old white men and acitivists with questionable backgrounds...

Arab, Muslim, and Iranian groups stayed away.

That said, expats are not always angels.. and sometimes, they do have personal agendas they push.

July 26, 2006 5:25 PM  
Blogger QArab said...

Red Tulips

Spoken like a true zionist...

Fact is there is no such thing as a "Jewish Cause"... Judaism is a religion, and a beautiful one..

There is a Zionist cause... and that cause is a racist one based on an outdated colonialist mentality that essentially forces the notion of Jewish nationalism on a religious entity. That nationalism was behind a brutal occupation of an entire people and land. That "cause" has created more tragedy, horrors, and pain than any other ideology since the Nazis (oh the irony..)

The sad part is that Jews and Judaism itself ended up being the victims of that Zionism.. the ideology that claimed to help and save them... More Jewish lives are lost now because of Zionism than anything else.. more than Anti-Semitism.. think about it.

As far as the so-called horrors of Islamic extermists... yes they go around blowing themselves and beheading folks.. but, let's compare that to the action of the fascists on the other side. US and Israeli plane drop state of the art bombs that weigh in tons.. flatening out entire villages in seconds... Just because CNN (or Fox News in your case) doesn't show the gruesome details, does not make it less barbaric or fascist in nature. Body count for body count.. victims of Israeli fascism are by far higher than those of Muslim militants... (see Beirut)

so, let's keep that in mind when we talk about fascism.

Sorry, being gay actually makes me more likely to sympathize with vicitms and the underdogs of the world. The Zionist state is in league with the opressors, as such my gay "cause" is much more in line with anyone who struggles against Israel, be it Hizbullah, Hamas, or anyone else.

remember, Zionism is the worst thing to happen to Judaism...

July 26, 2006 5:48 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

One July 19 organizer, from DC, recently wrote this to Scott Long:


I too appreciated seeing that quote from Garcia Marquez. It reminded me of a passage from Before Night Falls by Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, describing something he witnessed during the lead-up to the Mariel Boatlift in 1980:

“During a desperate and angry speech, accompanied and applauded by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Juan Bosch, Castro accused those poor people in the embassy of being antisocial and sexually depraved. I’ll never forget that speech – Castro looked like a cornered, furious rat – nor will I forget the hypocritical applause of Garcia Marquez and Juan Bosch, giving their support to such a crime against the unfortunate captives.”

As Ian Buruma wrote a couple of months ago in the Sunday Times, “One of the most vexing things for artists and intellectuals who live under the compulsion to applaud dictators is the spectacle of colleagues from more open societies applauding of their own free will. It adds a peculiarly nasty insult to injury.”

Not that you do not know all this, of course. Human Rights Watch wrote in a report on Cuba, "Over the last 40 years, Cuba has developed a highly effective machinery of repression."

A misimpression seems to have crept into the discussion, to the effect that the July 19 protests were primarily an American phenomenon. In fact, they occurred in cities from Moscow to Mexico City. And of course, they were endorsed and praised by PGLO.

Not only have you been misguided in your approach to this matter, Scott, you have been incredibly patronizing and insulting, all the while pretending that it is others who insisted on personalizing the discussion. I am sure you know perfectly well that the July 19 organizers do not for a moment question the great value and importance of HRW’s efforts. The need for great care and caution in your work is also easy to understand. What is unfortunate is your apparent unwillingness to recognize that other approaches – approaches that could not be adopted by HRW -- can be valuable as well. Of course demonstrations are not enough, nor can you possibly believe that they are all that Peter Tatchell is about, any more than you can believe that his perspective on the world is limited to New York and London.

By the way, in a July 10 email from you that was forwarded to me, you rather sniffily asked when Michael Petrelis had become interested in Iran. As a matter of fact, he has been involved in international gay rights advocacy since he helped persuade the U.S. State Department to expand its coverage of gay rights abuses in its annual country human rights reports in 1991.

Your gatekeeping will not work, and is not necessary. July 19 was not just about “catharsis” for Westerners, as you suggested to Peter. We were collectively shining a light on a grave and continuing injustice. Nor does OutRage! deserve the sneering dismissiveness that you showered upon it, with your mantra that the gay connection was based on mistranslations of early reports from Mashhad. OutRage! three months ago released its report “Iran’s State Murder of Gays,” based on Simon Forbes’s nine-month investigation based on information gathered from sources inside Iran. If, given the repression regnant in the Islamic Republic of Iran, some of us are prepared to rely on standards of evidence less forensic than HRW must abide by, it is nonetheless legitimate for Simon and other investigators to note the contradictions and inconsistencies in the changing official story about Ayaz and Mahmoud.

(Nor is that all that Simon’s report discusses, but you can read it for yourself.) And despite your insistence that July 19 was all about those two hanged teenagers regardless of Peter’s emphasis on the five demands (based on the power of those gruesome photos), Peter is right on that and you are wrong. The Washington Post writer (I am sure you’ve seen the thoughtful piece from the Post Style section today) clearly “got it” that this is not all about just that one case. Those notorious hangings of a year ago simply opened a window, and created an opportunity for advocacy. Your suggestion that we are presumptuous, heedlessly parochial Westerners whom the oppressed may not want standing next to them is contradicted by the glowing statement yesterday from PGLO – not to mention the eloquent words of the pseudonymous “Mani” in the interview by Doug Ireland in the July 6 Gay City News.

You can, of course, get support for your position from people like Faisal Alam, who regards me as a racist for disagreeing with him, and who has been so ill-served by the pandering of others. But your attacks against the July 19 organizers (and yes, that is what they are) are profoundly misguided. Instead of recommending a round of navel gazing, you might have tried to get Paula to simply answer Michael Petrelis’s perfectly reasonable question on the status of her inquiries with the United Nations.

The amazing thing about the July 19 worldwide action, for me, is the wide political spectrum represented by the organizers and participants. You suggested in one email that people may have become invested in their gay interpretation of the Mashhad hangings, and thus were unwilling to acknowledge their error that you say was based on mistranslation. I hope that you yourself have not become invested in your sour view of the remarkable worldwide, grassroots action of July 19. It would be so refreshing if you would just admit that you have been unfair, and desist from the obnoxious and fruitless gatekeeping efforts.

Rick Rosendall
Washington, D.C.

July 27, 2006 12:05 AM  
Blogger Red Tulips said...


But it is the Islamofacists who are oppressing you, and the Israelis who merely want to be left alone. However, fuck with them, and the fires of hell will be brought down upon you.


But in fact the oppression that Israel has done is nothing compared to the way in which Hezbollah and Hamas oppress their own people. Furthermore, they are setting their cause BACK when they use their terror methods. Israel voluntarily left Lebanon on their own, and they gave Gaza back on their own. They were going to give more land back - and then Islamofacists had to kidnap soldiers and fire rockets into Israel, starting this whole mess. Terror as a tactic is the problem, not the solution. Without terror, the Palestinians would have had their own state starting in 1948, and again in 1967, and then in 2000. Terror is what has ensured they DON'T have a state.

Furthermore, the Islamofacists are anti-woman's rights, anti-progress, and anti-thought. They are against pretty much everything I believe in.

To both of you:

While I realize that not every zionist is pro-gay and vice versa, my point is that the common enemy is the same - Islamofacism. I am not saying that Islam is the enemy (though I don't get religion, but that's a whole other story!), but the interpretation of Islam that IS facist - that in fact includes Sharia law, which involves heavy regulation of the state and ties to what one would consider facism - is the enemy.

July 27, 2006 1:57 PM  
Blogger Red Tulips said...

And Zionism is not racism. It is a belief in a Jewish state, nothing more! That is hardly racist. Judaism is a culture as well as a religion. For instance, as I have stated, I do not believe in the religion of Judaism, yet I consider myself Jewish. A Jewish state is hence no different from a British state, a French state, etc. You are not decrying British nationalists as racists! And remember, a) anyone can convert to Judaism, so it's not exclusive that way; b) Israel is made up of 20% nonJews!

July 27, 2006 2:01 PM  
Blogger Red Tulips said...

Sorry, one clarification - when I say Israel left Lebanon, I was referring to the year 2000.

July 27, 2006 2:02 PM  
Blogger QArab said...

Red Tulips

Zionism is indeed racism.. and here is why

Zionists want to have their cake and eat it too. They believe Judaism is a religion, when it suits them, and a national movement when they want. They are the only "country" in the world that gets away with it.. well, unless you consider Iran (oh no.. that "islamofasicst" state..)

A blond blue eyed criminal from Brooklyn can land in Tel Aviv and say "I'm Jewish" and that person gets automatic citizenship (and that happened, look it up), while a native Palestinian from Jerusalem may never be able to go home.. the home his ancestors have live in for centuries...

Zionists are racist because they deny the existance of an entire people.. a people that mind you was truly multicultural, moslems, christians and jews... promoting the highly racist notion of a "land with no people for a people with no land". Golda Meir declared that Palestinians are nothing more than cockroaches.. and that she has nightmares when she thinks of Palestian babies. (look it up, again, I'm not making this shit up)

and finally, Zionists are racists, becuase as illustrated in the last couple of weeks they seem to have no problem inflicting collective punishment to an entier people (just like the Nazis, ironically) in Lebanon or Gaza...

so, if it talks like a duck, walks like a duck.. it's a duck

but it's not too late to change... many of my jewish friends here have renounced zionism. Even in Israel there is plenty of talk about a post-zionist Israel. It took over a century now, but the followers of Hertzl are finally realizing that this whole project is a mess.

July 27, 2006 11:03 PM  
Blogger Red Tulips said...


Golda Meir never said the Palestinians were like cockroaches. That quote has been definitively debunked by Go look it up.

In fact, Israel is a secular Jewish state. It is ruled by secularism. Any Jew - regardless of whether they believe or not - gets automatic citizenship into Israel if they want. Also, anyone can become a Jew! But more than that, Arab Israelis have full citizenship rights in Israel. Can the same be said for the Jews who live in the surrounding countries? Of course not.

The Palestinians were not kicked out in 1948 - they left to wage war against Israel. I fail to see how they deserve to come back with citizenship rights after that. Moreover, Israel tried to hand back the land in 1967 that they won in the Six Day War. The only condition was peace - and this was refused!

Why should Israel let in a people into their country who wish to wage war upon Israel? That just makes no sense.

Finally, there were no "Palestinians" prior to the formation of Israel. In fact, it was all Trans Jordan. There were no ethnic Palestinians. Just something to keep in perspective.

Also, not all Jews are zionists, and also not all zionists are Jews. I have read of Christian zionists. Moreover, my overall point is that given Israel has 20% nonJews with full citizenship rights who have a better life than they can dream of in the surrounding nations, and given the fact that zionism was never about religion - it was about providing the Jews as a PEOPLE with a homeland, indeed to pick out the one Jewish state in the world and say it is illegitimate and racist is either ignorant of the facts or in fact an example of some of your own biases you cannot or will not acknowledge.

July 28, 2006 2:02 AM  
Blogger QArab said...

this is such a typical zionist rhetoric.

Let's start with the Golda Meir comment.. honey, relying on for your "facts" is the equivalent of getting your news from Fox News.

While indeed all jews can land in Tel Aviv and get citizenship.. the same is not true for Palestinians (who are of and from that land).. so, if that's not racism, I don't know what is.

You say that Jews don't have citizenships in surrounding countries.. really? I grew up in a huge Jewish neighborhood in Beirut.. full citizens,Jews are in Syria, Egypt, etc etc.. I would argue that if it weren't for the establishment of the Zionist state, these Jews may have not encountered the harrassment some have.

Finally, as a typical zionist, you feel you have the right to tell people who they are and what their identity is. Palestine existed on that land because generations and generations of people tell us so... and frankly, I am more likely to believe my own people, then some Polish or Brooklnite immigrant who violently stole that land.

Zionism is the new apartheid.. time to get rid of it... it's the worst thing to happen to Judaism.

July 28, 2006 6:02 PM  
Blogger Red Tulips said...


Look it up. It is a fact that there was no "Palestinian people" prior to the formation of Israel. I do not deny that there were Arabs living there - but that is a separate question over whether there were Palestinians.

Also, there never was any true peace between Muslims and Jews. The refrain that "if there would be no Israel there would be peace" is just shockingly ignorant.

July 28, 2006 8:31 PM  
Blogger QArab said...

uh yes.. there was a palestine and palestinians..

The Israel Symphony was The Palestine Symphony (look it up...), there was a currency, universities, schools, companies.. the people are still around... many still hold the deeds to their lands and home.. I know that for a fact.. first hand...The "Arabs" that lived there refered to themseleves as Palestinians.. they have been there for centuries..

and yes, there was plenty peace between Jews and Muslims.. remember Andalusia... Jews and Moslems got along very well then, heck, it was the Moslems that saved the Jews during the Spanish inquisition.. I personally know of Palestinian Jews and Lebanese Jews, who simply have rejected the call of Zionism and decided to stick to their nationality instead. For them, Judaism is only a religion.

It's not Jews the Arabs have problems with.. it's Zionists...

someone needs to go back and read history some more... and stay away from the right wing blogs and media

July 29, 2006 6:18 AM  
Blogger Red Tulips said...

The "peace" was under a dhimmi system, whereby Jews were treated as second class citizens. While that was better on a relative scale to Europe at the time, I fail to see how that is "peace" in a true sense, and something to aspire to.

I guess you and I have a very different definition of what peace means, because I refuse to be a dhimmi.

The hatred of Jews and maltreatment of Jews by Muslims began way before the formation of the State of Israel. If you think otherwise, you are dreaming.

As far as whether something was called the "Palestine Symphony," that is hardly proof that there was a group of people who actually considered themselves "Palestinians" as something distinct from Trans Jordanians.

July 29, 2006 7:45 PM  
Blogger libhom said...


Some of your comments baffle me. Andrew Sullivan could be considered a neocon, but Andy Humm??????? That is just bizarre.

I can see why you would infer questionable motives to Sullivan, but Sullivan was not an organizer of the protest, but rather an exploiter.

Also, you might want to remember that this protest followed vocal critism by some of the protest's organizers of Iraq's regime, which is supported by Tony Blair and the Bush regime.

One thing I've noticed is that both Scott Long and Andrew Sullivan have worked hard to pit American and European queers against Middle Eastern queers, for their own personal egos and agendas.

After reading Long and Sullivan on this subject, I've learned that neither is a credible source on this issue.

As for the rape charge, the fact that Long is treating the Iranian queers as guilty until proven innocent is really disturbing. Unquestioningly buying into the pedophilia libel against queer men reflects a disturbing degree of homophobia, something that HRW really needs to address.

Obviously, Long's ego also is a problem. Ego must be playing a role in his inability to accept that an experienced reporter like Doug Ireland would be better at getting confidential and reliabile sources to provide information on the rape allegations. Besides, I would be reluctant to trust Long in this case if I were a source, given that Long had predetermined that we was going to support the allegations.

The major wrinkle in all of this is that Scott Long and HRW have worked in the past and continue to work for the safety of queers in many areas and now are behaving in a homophobic manner. Figuring out the best way of dealing with homophobic behavior being displayed by an organization that many queers depend on is not easy.

I also think that criticisms of IGLHRC are unfair. They depend so heavily on groups like HRW that they have limited freedom to criticize them.

July 30, 2006 3:21 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Did anyone read this column last year?:

Culture Wars get personal (Gay)
Amsterdam’s welcome mat to gays won’t be restored by using the law to silence Muslim fundamentalists. Gay Americans are all too used to such arm-twisting tactics.
Friday, May 13, 2005

By Chris Crain


The other half of the messages dealt instead with the anti-gay motivation of our attackers and urged my boyfriend and me to return to Amsterdam, and to hold hands in the street without fear. We have been touched more than we can say by this show of support, from abroad and at home.

All of the messages were sympathetic and some dealt with the cultural conflict in a thoughtful, careful manner. But many Dutch residents were particularly blunt in their disgust for the changes they see in their country.

“This kind of behavior is exactly why the Dutch would like to see the Moroccans go back home rather sooner than later,” wrote one woman in a typical message. “Because they are miles apart from Dutch culture.”

“You seem to think that those Moroccans only hate gay people?” wrote a resident of Leiden, near Amsterdam. “Forget it! They hate everyone who isn’t Moroccan. For years our government is telling us to be tolerant, to try to understand ‘our new Dutch.’ This is where it leads.”

Andrew Sullivan kindly helped spread initial word about the attack on his eponymous blog, and like many others couched the Dutch Culture Wars in explicit religious terms.

“Hatred of open and proud homosexuals is intrinsic to Islamist fundamentalism, as it is to Christian fundamentalism,” he wrote. “The struggle against both is the same one — at home and abroad.”

Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Program at the Human Rights Watch, also blamed the attack in part on “global fundamentalism” — mainly U.S. televangelist Pat Robertson and the new Catholic pope. He went on to claim our assault was the natural response of a Muslim minority routinely discriminated against by native Dutch.

“There’s still an extraordinary degree of racism in Dutch society,” Long said in an interview with PlanetOut. “Gays often become the victims of this when immigrants retaliate for the inequities that they have to suffer.”

MY OWN VIEW is that many of our well-intentioned supporters are approaching the underlying cause of hate violence in fundamentally misguided ways. Long, in particular, only fans the flames of hate by blaming our attack on Dutch society, which has enacted the most progressive gay laws in the world, for producing an anti-gay attack.

There was no racist component to our attack, as he implies. Our attackers would have reacted at least as viciously to two men of their own ethnicity who walked the street as lovers.

Long’s brand of “blame the society” political correctness is a distraction from the very real cultural clashes happening in Holland and elsewhere. In his role at Human Rights Watch, Long has no business being an apologist for hate, and for the bias-motivated violence it produces.

It’s also too easy to point the finger at America’s favorite target — fundamentalist Islam. We were walking back to our hotel room in the wee hours on Saturday morning through a street full of holiday revelers. Our attackers were not on the corner for morning prayers.

I do not mean to discount the influence of religion on culture. I grew up in the American South, where fundamentalist Christianity provided aid and comfort for the racist oppression of blacks and continues to rally opposition to equality for gays.

But the contribution of religion here is more indirect, and I’m not sure much can be accomplished with non-Muslims blaming a faith about which we are mostly ignorant for the culture we think it has produced. Life in a multicultural society means accepting that others will not share our religious beliefs and that no one group should lay claim to representing “normal society,” demanding all others succumb.

THE DUTCH CULTURE Wars should not be fought by shutting down the borders or by using the law to silence those who do not share the country’s tradition of tolerance. Those are the arm-twisting tactics of the cultural conservatives who control the majority party here in the U.S.

If we really believe our own rhetoric — about freedom of thought and tolerance of other cultures and values — then the best response is more openness and more speech, not less.

Too often those who advocate for openness and tolerance get dismissed as soft-headed or naive, and they can be. Some Dutch media have purposefully ignored the cultural conflict that played a role in our attack by refusing to report any details about our attackers. Tolerance should not mean burying your head in the sand.

Others, like Long from Human Rights Watch, will view hate violence through a P.C. lens, apologizing for the attackers if their minority status “trumps” that of those who were attacked.

A more vigorous approach to openness would make the case for a society where each group is entitled to its own values, but not to impose them on others — whether through laws or through fists in the streets. This approach would publicly call upon good people from across the ideological spectrum, including those religious and cultural leaders who condemn homosexuality, to also condemn a brutal street beating of those who do not share their views.

I’ve been asked many times in the last week whether gay tourists should steer clear of Amsterdam until the climate there improves. I certainly hope that isn’t what happens.

I am proud that my boyfriend and I stood up for ourselves by walking the streets of Amsterdam hand in hand, and by not running away when we were confronted.

I would urge other gay tourists, as well as gays and our allies living in Holland, to stand up for themselves, too, and not run away figuratively, either.

August 03, 2006 8:46 AM  
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