HRGJ Event Tackles Life as Woman and LGBT Person in Iraq Under ISIS

Staffers from the Human Rights & Gender Justice (HRGJ) Clinic are on the road again, this week—this time to Beirut to continue their work with local organizations advocating for various human rights.

Recently, the clinic co-hosted a panel event focused on living as a woman and a non-gender conforming individual in Iraq under ISIS rule. The event, titled “When Coming Out is a Death Sentence: Policy Strategies to Address the Persecution of Women & LGBT Persons by ISIS in Iraq”, brought together advocates from NY- and Iraq-based organizations, including Yanar Mohamed, executive director of the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), who spoke last year before the U.N. General Assembly about women’s rights in Iraq.

Members from several nonprofit groups joined CUNY Law's HRGJ clinic to discuss living under ISIS as a woman or LGBT person.

Members from several nonprofit groups joined CUNY Law’s HRGJ clinic to discuss living under ISIS as a woman or LGBT person.

Other panel speakers included: Majid Hannoun, OWFI’s coordinator in Iraq; Amir Ashour, founder and executive director of IraQueer; CUNY Law Professor Lisa Davis, co-chair of the law school’s HRGJ clinic; Ramy Ibrahim (’14) staff attorney for the HRGJ clinic; Yifat Susskind, executive director of the nonprofit MADRE; and moderator Jessica Stern, executive director of OutRight Action International.

Yifat Susskind of MADRE talks about her group's work to help in human rights organizations in Iraq.

Yifat Susskind of MADRE talks about her group’s work to help in human rights organizations in Iraq.

The panelists discussed the threat to women and LGBT individuals in the current conflict, and areas controlled or contested by ISIL. The speakers also presented policy strategies that advocates are initiating to advance the rights of women and LGBT persons in Iraq.

The clinic’s local Iraqi partners from OWFI and IraQueer, also gave an overview of their work on the ground to help provide protection to women and LGBT persons trying to escape gender-based violence by ISIS militants and other armed groups.

Listen to the strategies presented and the panel’s robust conversation on the podcast.