A leading U.S. gay rights activist is
raising questions about a gay rights group based in Iraq after the
group has failed to produce an accounting.
Michael Petrelis, a San Francisco based
gay rights activist, says his requests for an accounting from the
UK-based rights group Iraqi LGBT have only meet with stonewalling,
and at least one large donor is not being informed about the group's
Petrelis says millionaire
philanthropist turned Congressman from Colorado Jared Polis has not
been kept informed of how his $10,000 donation is being used by the
“The Congressman does not know how
his donation has been spent,” said Lara Cottingham, a Polis
spokesperson, in an email.
The group began soliciting American
donors in 2004, asking for help for gay Iraqis who face violent
discrimination. The group resettles gay Iraqis in America, the UK,
Sweden and Holland, a representative said. Petrelis himself has
advocated on behalf of the organization.
(ABC News has reported that gay
Iraqis often face torture, mutilation and even death at the hands of
religious extremists. But some of their reporting relied on
information provided by Iraqi LGBT supporters, and several facts in
the stories appear to contradict each other or cannot be reconciled.)
Petrelis is unconvinced the group is
helping anyone since he cannot get a straight answer. Monday, he
month-long series of email exchanges between himself and Ali Hili,
who helms Iraqi LGBT.
The emails begin encouraging enough –
“A response is being prepared … It will address the issues you
have raised ...” – but the conversation quickly degrades into
pussyfooting – “We would greatly appreciate your patience ...”
– and finally to open hostility – “Michael, your pushiness has
gone too far … Until you decide to change your approach, I don't
believe I can communicate with you.”
Petrelis points out in a separate blog
post that the group claimed last year that they produce monthly
reports, but the information is only being shared with large donors.
And Polis, a large donor, remains in
the dark about the group's activities.
While Petrelis has not accused the
group of any wrongdoing, his quest for answers raises important