Persecution of Homosexuals (Iraq)

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Note that this page may contain news regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transvestite, and transsexual people (LGBTT)

'Moderate' Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani calls for the killing of lesbians and gay men in the "worst, most severe way possible". Widespread reports of killings are "the tip of an iceberg of religious-motivated summary executions"[edit]

The spiritual leader of Iraq's Shia Muslims, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, is widelyviewed as a moderating influence, having condemned sectarian violence and encouraged his followers to participate in elections.
. . .

When it comes to human rights, the Grand Ayatollah stands revealed as an Islamist hardliner. He endorses Sharia law, with all its barbaric punishments: execution for Muslims who turn away from their faith, for unchaste women and for gay people.

In the Arabic language question and answer section of his website, Sistani calls for the killing of lesbians and gay men in the "worst, most severe way possible". Sistani's online fatwa concerns the state punishment of same-sex acts. It is not intended as a call for the vigilante killing of gays and lesbians.

But many of Sistani's Shia Muslim followers interpret his fatwa very differently. They see it as a theological sanction and encouragement to kill lesbians and gay men, according to exiled gay Iraqi, Ali Hili, who coordinates a group of more than 30 gay Iraqi refugees in the UK and has close links with clandestine gay activists inside Iraq.
. . .
Karim, aged 38, survived a hand grenade attack on his house in the Al-Jameha district of Baghdad in 2004. The attack by members of the Badr Corps, left him with severe facial disfigurement and shrapnel in his body. Simultaneously, the Badr Corps murdered his partner, Ali, at his house, also in the Al-Jameha district. They shot Ali as he tried to escape.

Haydar Faiek, aged 40, a transsexual Iraqi, was beaten and burned to death by Badr militias in the main street in the Al-Karada district of Baghdad in September 2005.

Sarmad and Khalid were partners who lived in the Al-Jameha area of Baghdad. Persons unknown revealed their same-sex relationship. They were abducted by the Badr organisation in April 2005. Their bodies were found two months later, in June, bound, blindfolded and shot in the back of the head.

Naffeh, aged 45, disappeared in August 2005. His family were informed that he was kidnapped by the Badr organisation. His body was found in January 2006. He, too, had been subjected to an execution-style killing.

Ammar, aged 27, was abducted and shot in back of the head in Baghdad by suspected Badr militias in January 2006.

Bashar, an actor aged 34, who resides in Baghdad, has been forced to go into hiding, after receiving death threats against him and his family. Before he went underground, his house was raided several times by the Badr Corps. Fortunately, he was not at home, otherwise he fears he would have been kidnapped and killed.

"These killings are just the ones we have been able to get details about. They are the tip of an iceberg of religious-motivated summary executions. Gay Iraqis are living in fear of discovery and murder," says Mr Hili.

"Every gay and lesbian here lives in fear, just pure fear, of being beaten or killed." Targeted by death squads in an escalating campaign of "sexual cleansing", homosexuals are becoming prisoners in their own homes[edit]

"Every gay and lesbian here lives in fear, just pure fear, of being beaten or killed," says Ahmad, a 34-year-old gay man, via telephone from his home in Baghdad. "Homosexuality is seen here as imported from the West and as the work of the devil."

Ahmad is masculine and "straight-acting," he says. "I can go out without being harassed or followed." But that's not the case for his more effeminate gay friends. "They just cannot go outside, period," he says. "If they did, they would be killed."

To help them survive, Ahmad has been bringing food and other necessities to their homes. "The situation for us gay people here is beyond bad and dangerous," he says.
. . .
Hili's group, some 30 gay Iraqi exiles who came together last fall in London in the wake of Sistani's death-to-gays fatwa, has a network of informants and supporters throughout Iraq. With anguish in his voice, he recalls two of them, lesbians who ran a safe house in Najaf that harbored young kids who'd been trapped in the commercial sex trade. "They were accused of running a brothel," he says. "They were slain in the safe house with their throats cut. This was only weeks ago.
. . .
Hussein, 32, is a gay man living with his married brother's family in Baghdad. "I've been living in a state of fear for the last year since Ayatollah Sistani issued that fatwa, in which he even encouraged families to kill their sons and brothers if they do not change their gay behavior," he says. "My brother, who has been under pressure and threats from Sistani's followers about me, has threatened to harm me himself, or even kill me, if I show any signs of gayness."
. . .
Indeed, even the way one dresses is enough to get a gay Iraqi killed. "Just the fact of looking neat and clean, let alone looking elegant and well-groomed, is very dangerous for a gay person," Hussein says. "So now I don't wear nice clothes, so that no one would even suspect that I'm gay. I now only leave home if I want to get food."

One of Hussein's best friends, Haydar, was recently found shot in the back of the head at a deserted ranch outside the city. "Some say he was shot by a family member in an act of honor killing; some say he was shot by those so-called death squads," Hussein says. "Everyone says it's easy these days to get away with killing gays, since there is no law and order here."
. . .
Mohammed, a gay Iraqi in his 20s from Basra, fled to Jordan on July 17 after the Badr Corps assassinated his partner. "I don't know how they found out about my partner, but they killed him by a bullet to the back of his head, so I knew that the danger was so close to me," he says via e-mail. "I don't know how I can live without this relationship."

The death of his partner marked the culmination of years of persecution for Mohammed, starting with his own family. "I've been gay since childhood," he says, but "my family are Shia and don't permit this [homosexuality]. I think they would kill us before the Badr Corps could if they knew about us."

Death squads are killing suspected gays by gluing their anuses shut with "Iranian gum" and inducing diarrhea. In some cases, hospitals refusing to treat victims. Tribes declare gay lives as worthless and allow deaths[edit]

A prominent Iraqi human rights activist says that Iraqi militia have deployed a painful form of torture against homosexuals by closing their anuses using “Iranian gum.” … Yanar Mohammad told Alarabiya.net that, “Iraqi militias have deployed an unprecedented form of torture against homosexuals by using a very strong glue that will close their anus.”

According to her, the new substance “is known as the Ameri gum, which is an Iranian-manufactured glue that if applied to the skin, sticks to it and can only be removed by surgery. After they glue the anuses of homosexuals, they give them a drink that causes diarrhea. Since the anus is closed, the diarrhea causes death. Videos of this form of torture are being distributed on mobile cellphones in Iraq.”

According to this human rights activist, for the past 3 weeks a crackdown on homosexuals has been going on based on a religious decree that demands their death; dozens have been targeted. She says that the persecution of homosexuals is not confined to the Shiite clerics. Some Sunni leaders have also declared the death penalty for sodomy on satellite channels.”
. . .
Hassan also confirmed the use of “Iranian Gum” in the torture process, adding that, “I talked to many young men who have been tortured by this method. They went to the hospital for treatment and in some cases they were refused treatment.” According to Hassan, “all religious leaders, whether Sunni or Shiite, call for the eradication of homosexuals, but the Shiites are the ones who are most involved in these attacks.”
. . .
According to newspaper reports from local news sources in Sadr City in East Baghdad, a previously unknown group “Ahl al-Haq (the followers of Truth) have stepped up the persecution of Iraqi homosexuals after the murder of a number of them in the past few days. The news sources say that, “3 lists, each with the name of 10 gay men were circulated in Sadr City for a few hours.” The lists included a quote saying, “You, prostitutes, we will punish you!”
. . .
Officials and tribal leaders in Sadr City are reluctant to provide details about the murder of homosexuals. However, Sheikh Hashem Mokhani, one of the tribal elders in the city, said: “The people refer to these sexual perverts as ‘son of a bitch,’ but most of the victims were not residents of Sadr City. They used to hang out in a [gay] cafe, on Palestine Street in Baghdad.”

Sheik Salal Al-kaabi, one of the elders of Sadr City says: “we have heard that the tribes, to whom these perverts belonged, declared their lives worthless and allowed their death, but we have also heard that an organization calling itself the followers of Truth (ahl-al Haq) are reponsible for the murders and have written on the chest of victim a sentence that reads: This is the fate of a son of a bitch.”
Iraq: Torture, Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment of LGBT People
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, April 20, 2009

Sixty-eight gay and trans-gendered men have been killed within the space of four months, bringing the total number of killings of Iraqis because of their sexuality to 678 since 2004[edit]

Iraqi gays are being targeted and killed in what rights campaigners say is some of the worst violence against the community in recent years.

At least 68 gay and transgendered men have been killed over the last four months, according to the London-based rights advocacy group Iraqi LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender), bringing the total number of killings of Iraqis because of their sexuality to 678 since 2004.
Iraqi gay community a target
Ben Lando, Iraq Oil Report, July 9, 2009

"The killers aren't just executing their gay victims. They are "mutilating their bodies and torturing them." At least 82 gay men have been killed in the first 7 Months of 2009[edit]

The young man turns to the camera and pleads with his tormentors.

"I'm not a terrorist," he tells the Iraqi police who surround him. "I want you to know I am different. But I am not a terrorist."

To some fundamentalist Iraqi Muslims, Ahmed Sadoun Saleh was worse than a terrorist.

He was gay. He wore his hair long and took female hormones to grow breasts. Amused by his appearance, Iraqi police officers stopped him in December at a checkpoint in a southern Baghdad neighborhood dominated by radical Shiite militias. They groped Saleh and ridiculed him.

The assault was captured on video and circulated on cellphones throughout Baghdad, says Ali Hili, founder of London-based Iraqi LGBT, a group dedicated to protecting Iraq's gays and lesbians. Shortly after the video was made public, Hili says Saleh contacted him, fearing for his life, and asked for his help to flee Iraq.

"Unfortunately, it was too late," Hili says. Saleh turned up dead two months later, he says.

At least 82 gay men have been killed in Iraq since December, according to Iraqi LGBT. The violence has raised questions about the Iraqi government's ability to protect a diverse range of vulnerable minority groups that also includes Christians and Kurds, especially following the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraqi cities last month.
. . .
Homosexuality, Khalaf says, is against the law and "is rejected by the customs of our society." He adds, however, that offenders should be handled by the courts, not dispatched by vigilante groups.

The killers aren't just executing their gay victims. They are "mutilating their bodies and torturing them," says fundamentalist Sunni cleric Sheik Mohammed al-Ghreri, who has criticized the violence.

Hili says the militias have come up with a particularly cruel way to inflict pain: sealing victims' anuses with glue, then force-feeding them laxatives. Hili says he has spoken to several victims who survived the ordeal.
. . .
Unable to trust the authorities — and in some cases shunned by their own families — many Iraqi gays have gone into hiding. Hassan and some gay friends say they had found refuge in a house in Karrada. But as the threat against them increased, they became afraid the police would find them. So they scattered.

Hassan says he sometimes stays at home with his brothers — their parents are dead — but he's afraid even of them, afraid they will kill him because he has brought shame to the family.

He says he wanted to move in with his sister, who lives in Abu Dhabi. She turned him away, saying she didn't want her children to know they have a gay uncle.

Unwilling to trust the police, Iraqi LGBT has set up its own safe houses for gays in Iraq. The group has struggled to raise money and had to close three safe houses in the past couple of months, leaving just one open.

Hili says five safe houses are needed, each of them housing 10 to 12 gay refugees. Rent for a 2,150-square-foot safe house is usually $600 a month. Yet other expenses pile up: security guards, food, fuel, medical bills, pots and pans, bedding.

"We desperately need to add more because we have so many urgent cases," Hili says. "We receive requests for shelter every day, but are not able to help."

Iraqi security forces may have colluded and joined in the killing of homosexuals. Bodies of four gay men are found, each bearing a sign reading "pervert" in Arabic. Another found with genitals cut off and throat ripped out[edit]

Iraqi militias are conducting a campaign of torture and murder against men suspected of homosexual activity, a leading rights group said on Monday, adding that government security forces may be involved.
. . .

Shi'ite Muslim militias once held sway over many areas of Baghdad and Iraq's Shi'ite south, but a series of government crackdowns in the past two years has weakened their presence. Sunni Islamist militants such as al Qaeda have also spread religious intolerance.

HRW said it had been told that in some attacks Iraqi security forces had "colluded and joined in the killing."

"Murder and torture are no way to enforce morality ... These killings point to the continuing and lethal failure of Iraq's post-occupation authorities to establish the rule of law and protect their citizens," HRW researcher Rasha Moumneh said.
. . .
In March, the bodies of four gay men were found in Sadr City, each bearing a sign reading "pervert" in Arabic, police said.
. . .
Its statement carried testimony from victims, including one man who said his partner of 10 years was taken from his home at night in April by four men dressed in black and wearing masks.

"He was found in the neighborhood the day after. They had thrown his corpse in the garbage. His genitals were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out," the man said.

Muslim gangs using the internet to track-down, torture and kill gays. Responsible for the deaths of more than 130 gay Iraqi men since the beginning of the year[edit]

Sitting on the floor, wearing traditional Islamic clothes and holding an old notebook, Abu Hamizi, 22, spends at least six hours a day searching internet chatrooms linked to gay websites. He is not looking for new friends, but for victims.

"It is the easiest way to find those people who are destroying Islam and who want to dirty the reputation we took centuries to build up," he said. When he finds them, Hamizi arranges for them to be attacked and sometimes killed.

Hamizi, a computer science graduate, is at the cutting edge of a new wave of violence against gay men in Iraq. Made up of hardline extremists, Hamizi's group and others like it are believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 130 gay Iraqi men since the beginning of the year alone.

The deputy leader of the group, which is based in Baghdad, explained its campaign using a stream of homophobic invective. "Animals deserve more pity than the dirty people who practise such sexual depraved acts," he told the Observer. "We make sure they know why they are being held and give them the chance to ask God's forgiveness before they are killed."
How Islamist gangs use internet to track, torture and kill Iraqi gays
Afif Sarhan and Jason Burke, The Observer, September 13, 2009

Wave of attacks against those perceived to be homosexual or too masculine/feminine, leads to 42 people in less than 1 month being kidnapped, tortured and murdered (dismembered or beaten to death with concrete blocks)[edit]

"New barbaric attacks started against the Iraqi LGBT in many cities like Baghdad and Basra while using inhumane methods such as hitting the head and body parts of gay victims with building concrete blocks repeatedly till death or by pushing them over high building roof which took place in Basra city. The actions of killings, torture, and dismembering against those who were described as “adulterous” by Islamic Shia militias, besides hanging lists on the walls of several sections in Al-Sadr city and in Al-Habibea region, had all terrorized the society at large and especially the Iraqi LGBT community, knowing that those attacks are directed against anyone suspected with gay practices or appearance.

"The first killings took place on the sixth of February 2012 and continued or rather escalated till the current days [March 1, 2012]. One of the hanged lists in Al-Sadr city included the names and addresses of 33 person, while other lists included other tens of names in other areas. News confirmed that 42 gay men were tortured and killed so far, mostly by concrete blocks, while some by dismembering.
Homophobic murders in Iraq
Workers' Liberty, March 5, 2012
Militia have launched a new wave of attacks against Iraqis perceived to be gay, lesbian or 'too masculine or feminine', according to he International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).

The organization says it has been told by Iraqi human rights activists that the renewed targeting started in early February this year.

An unidentified group posted death threats against ‘the adulterous individuals’ in the predominantly Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad and Basra. The threats gave the individuals, whose names and ages were listed, four days to stop their behavior or else face the ‘wrath of god’.

Iraq observers say attackers are targeting men who are seen as ‘too feminine’ and women who are perceived as ‘masculine’ rather than focusing solely on people’s sexuality.

Sources inside Iraq say this new surge of anti-gay violence has seen close to 40 people kidnapped, brutally tortured and murdered.

IGLHCR say the Iraqi authorities have neither responded to this targeted violence nor have they publicly denounced it. It is widely believed that these atrocities are being committed by a group of the Shiite militia.
. . .

‘We all want to speak, put some pressure on Al-Maliki government. But the question is how? Because he knows and supports all these actions against the Iraqi LGBT, in particular and Sunna in general. Working against these people needs lots of support and real plan.’
New wave of attacks on ‘gays and lesbians’ in Iraq
Dan Littauer, Gay Star News, March 6, 2012