October 5, 2005

To the Editor:

Doug Ireland’s attacks on Paula Ettelbrick and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) are misplaced and ill-founded (“IGLHRC’s Failure to Stand Up to Anti-Gay Iran,” Sep. 29-Oct 5.)

While many things can and should be done to hold Iran accountable for its atrocious treatment of sexual minorities, pointing figures at leaders within our community will do no one any good. Ireland might be more informed if he were to actually speak to the staff of IGLHRC and the many other non-governmental organizations working on this issue.

While queer people in the United States may enjoy many freedoms that are not available to sexual minorities in other countries, we must remember that the same strategies used to win our struggles cannot be replicated around the world. We owe thanks to the civil rights movement in this country that paved the way for queer people to even feel strong enough to stand up and demand our rights.

Countries like Iran do not share our history; the struggles of sexual minorities within Iran must only occur when they are ready—not when we demand their freedom from a place where we cannot be harmed. To think that that we will accomplish any good for queer people in Iran by creating models to fight repression based on Western strategies is self-righteous and egocentric.

We must take the lead from organizations like IGLHRC, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch who work every day in tandem with individuals and groups in countries like Iran, to secure the freedom of people facing abuses of human rights from their governments.

Faisal Alam

Founder, Al-Fatiha Foundation,

LGBTIQ Muslims


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