Tuesday, March 28, 2006

One very lucky guy

Family Kept Hostage's Homosexuality Quiet
Fears that James Loney's Iraqi captors might harm the peace activist if they knew he was gay forced his partner to remain silent as his loved ones called for an end to the hostage ordeal, Christian Peacemaker Teams co-director Doug Pritchard said Monday.

James Loney.

During his four months of captivity, Loney's sexuality was kept out of the media spotlight at the request of his family, said Pritchard.

"It's a sad fact that around the world gays and lesbians are more vulnerable to attack than straights," Pritchard said.

"When Jim was already in a vulnerable position we didn't, nor did his family, want him exposed to further danger."

On Sunday, Loney's return home was marked by an emotional welcome at Toronto's Pearson International Airport attended by friends, family and his partner, Dan Hunt.

While family members made appeals for Loney's release during his hostage ordeal, the homecoming marked the first time Hunt appeared before the media.

"It probably would not have been helpful" if Hunt had made a public plea during Loney's time in captivity, Pritchard said.

In 2001, Amnesty International reported that Iraq's constitution was amended to make homosexuality a crime punishable by death.

Although the constitution reverted back to the original 1969 document when Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled in 2003, the status of gay and lesbian rights remain unclear in the war-torn country.

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