Hidden Love in a War Zone


Emily Martinez, Staff News Repackager

Nayyef Hrebid was an Iraqi soldier who was a translator for the U.S. Army, and Btoo Allami, another Iraqi soldier fell in love together at the climax of one of the war there in 2004.

There is a recent documentary on the two called ‘Out of Iraq’. The film describes all the situations and problems they had to go through to get to where they are now.

In 2003 Hrebid signed up to be a U.S translator after not being able to find a job anywhere else. And in 2004 is when Hrebid and Btoo met, falling deeply in love.

They continued their relationship in secret because of the horrible threats that have been circling around that country. Being known as gay is very dangerous in Iraq. The LGBTQ community there has been oppressed on several occasions.

“One day I was sitting outside and this guy came out of the shower block. I saw his hair was shiny and very black and he was smiling. I just thought, ‘Oh my god, this guy is really cute.’…I felt like something beautiful had happened in this very bad place.” Nayyef Hrebid has stated.

In the past, surveys sent out in Iraq asking people’s thoughts on LGBTQ, 43% of the responses they got stated that simply being LGBTQ should be a crime. While it is still legal to be homosexual, many activists stated gay men and women have been killed after being targeted.

Hrebid was not “out” in the American/Western definition of the word, he was very much hiding his sexual orientation.


A BBC World Service Investigation found Iraqi law enforcement agencies in 2012 were forming plans for persecutions against homosexuals. There was an Islamic group who have killed dozens of gay men between 2015-2016. It has been stated that a majority of the victims were thrown off of high buildings to their deaths.

No matter what has happened, Hrebid and Allami forgot how they could have lost their lives at any minute of any day and they continued to love each other in secret, making arrangements to be near each other in Iraq, and later to fight for better lives and a better surrounding environment.

In 2009 extremists started to target Iraqi translators. That would be putting Hrebid in a difficult position. The U.S granted him asylum and from there he fled to Seattle.

Btoo Allami had to wait a longer while to be granted asylum. But eventually he got it and they got married in Canada on Valentine’s Day in 2014.

Hrebid and Allami travelled from Vancouver to Seattle by bus in March 2015. They had another wedding ceremony in the U.S. and officially tied the knot in Washington State.