The first time Majid and Ahlam saved a gay person’s life, they didn’t even know what LGBT stood for. Word had reached them that three men were being held at home by members of their extended family, who were preparing to execute them for “shaming” the family.
Majid, a bulky 54-year-old who spent much of his life as a housepainter, and Ahlam, the 50-year-old widow of an intelligence officer in Saddam Hussein’s military, arrived at the house an hour later to find it surrounded by 15 armed men.
As Ahlam remembers, she approached the house on foot and told the men standing outside that she had been harassed on the road. In keeping with local custom, the men invited her to take refuge in the house, and left to find the supposed wrongdoers.