On Feb 14, 2016 Yalla reported:
“To be gay in Iraq, it’s very dangerous. You lose your family, and you lose your friends, you lose everything almost.”
Speaking to KUOW Radio in Seattle, Nayyef Hrebid and Betu Allami have told of the lengths to which they have had to go to be together. When they met in Ramadi in 2004, Hrebid was working as an interpreter for the US Marines and Allami was a soldier in the Iraqi army. The constant danger of the operation was stressful, and the two would relax in a safe house in the evening, sharing a meal and their thoughts in the back garden.
“Because, you know, we see dead people. We fight. So what we talk about is our life and past, about how we feel, about where we like to be in the future. And that was very beautiful in that difficult moment,” Hrebid explained. Against the backdrop of daily danger, the two men, who both hid their sexuality, developed feelings for one another. Allami confessed his love for Hrebid after four days.
To be gay in Iraq is to risk torture and murder. In a 2011 report, Human Rights Watch highlighted a campaign of extrajudicial executions, kidnappings, and torture of gay men orchestrated by the Mahdi Army militia of Moqtada al-Sadr in Baghdad. There is a suggestion that Iraqi security forces colluded in the crimes.