'The Queer Insurrection': Coalition forces fighting Isis in Syria form first LGBT unit

Fighters vow to 'smash the gender binary and advance the women’s revolution as well as the broader gender and sexual revolution'

Benjamin Kentish
Tuesday 25 July 2017 11:46 BST
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Kurdish soldiers raise the YPG flag in Syria. The group is unusual in its recognition of gender equality and includes all-women units
Kurdish soldiers raise the YPG flag in Syria. The group is unusual in its recognition of gender equality and includes all-women units

A group of LGBT people fighting against Isis in Syria have formed their own military unit as the battle to eradicate the Islamist organisation continues.

Isis has brutally persecuted LGBT people for several years and considers being gay to be a crime punishable by death.

Now a number of international volunteers fighting alongside Kurdish forces in northern Syria have formed an LGBT military unit and named it “The Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army” (TQILA) – pronounced “tequila”.

The group was set up under the umbrella of the International Revolutionary People’s Guerrilla Forces (IRPGF), an anarchist group taking part in the fight against Isis.

TQILA's formation was announced in a statement posted on its Twitter page.

“We, the International Revolutionary People’s Guerrilla Forces (IRPGF) formally announce the formation of The Queer Insurrection and Liberation Army (TQILA), a subgroup of the IRPGF comprised of LGBT*QI+ comrades as well as others who seek to smash the gender binary and advance the women’s revolution as well as the broader gender and sexual revolution,” it said.

“TQILA’s members have watched in horror as fascists and extremist forces around the world have attacked the Queer community and murdered countless of our community members citing that they are ‘ill’, ‘sick’, and ‘unnatural’.

“The images of gay men being thrown of roofs and stoned to death by Daesh [Isis] was something we could not idly watch.”

The group said “hatred for Queer, Trans* and other non-binary peoples” is not limited to Isis but is also present among “Christian conservatives in the global northwest”.

The statement ends: “Queer liberation! Death to rainbow capitalism! Shoot back! These faggots kill fascists!”

Further details about the unit remain scarce and a spokesman for the group told Newsweek they would not be revealed for security reasons.

Pictures posted on social media showed masked soldiers in military uniforms holding guns and standing in front of a banner reading: “These Faggots Kill Fascists, TGILA-IRPGF”.

In the background other soldiers hold the rainbow flag and a banner showing the group’s logo – an AK47 on a pink background.

Isis has frequently murdered people in Iraq and Syria who it deems to be LGBT, including releasing videos showing gay people being pushed off buildings and stoned to death.

The group also claimed responsibility for a 2016 attack on a LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people.

Kurdish forces are unusual in their recognition of gender equality. They include all-female units and generally treat men and women as equals.

Isis has suffered several major defeats in recent months. It has been driven out of the city of Mosul in northern Iraq – its last remaining stronghold in the country. At the same time, its main base in Syria – the city of Raqqa – is under siege by a Western-backed coalition of forces that includes Kurdish units.

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