Persecution of Homosexuals (Somalia)

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

Two women accused of having a lesbian relationship are sentenced to death for "exercising unnatural behaviour". Hundreds cheer as the judge hands down the sentences

Two women accused of having a lesbian relationship have been sentenced to death by a court in the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland in northern Somalia.

In the first case of its kind in Somalia, a culturally conservative and Muslim nation, the two — whose names were not revealed — were found guilty of "exercising unnatural behaviour".

The relationship between the two women was discovered after one of them sued her partner, who had lived in the United States, for infecting her with a sexually transmitted disease.

Hundreds packed the court in the northern coastal town of Boosaaso earlier this week to hear the case. They cheered as the judge handed down death sentences on the two women.

The pair are reported to have been tried under Somali Criminal Punishment Law, which is loosely based on Islamic Sharia law.

Somalia’s media report that a date for the executions, which are normally carried out by firing squad in public, is expected to be announced this week.

Our correspondent in Somalia says homosexual activities in Somalia are known to exist, but are rarely mentioned in public.
Death Sentence for Somali Lesbians
BBC News, February 22, 2001
The Somali editor, Abdishakur Yusuf Ali, who was jailed for reporting that a lesbian couple had been sentenced to death, has been released in Bosaso, the commercial capital of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland in north-eastern Somalia. The release indicates the true nature of the lesbians' death sentence.

Abdishakur, editor of War Ogaal newspaper, was released on Sunday, 1 April, after spending 36 days in detention on charges of publishing false information. He told the UN media IRIN in a telephone interview that he had been "released for lack of evidence." He had reported that two women living together as a couple had been sentenced to death for "unnatural behaviour". His newspaper ceased publication after his arrest, but had been published again on Thursday since his release, he said.
. . .
"Amnesty International tried to gather further details from contacts in Puntland and the region, but was not able to independently verify any of the available information," was told. The rights group believed there was reason to assume that "the story had been fabricated."

The new information about the case against Abdishakur however indicates that the "story" indeed was true. The Paris based Reporters sans frontières (RSF) started collecting evidence in Puntland to pressure the Bosaso government to release Abdishakur, and on 5 April informed that Abdishakur had reported "a court decision". RSF has however not been willing to give more details on this.

Further, that the police was not able to present proof that Abdishakur's reports from the court were a "false declaration" indicates strongly that the court ruling indeed took place.

Also the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has been monitoring the allegations in the Puntland court case. IGLHRC first reported about Abdishakur's possible arrest on 2 March and remains "concerned that denials by Puntland authorities may be unreliable."

Gangs with guns search the streets for people they suspected of being gay, while others in Somalia are being compelled into arranged marriages, driven to commit suicide, and even attacked and killed by family

Faro, is one of the leaders of Queer Somalia, a community based organisation based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He makes frequent visits to Somalia to make contact with small groups of queers there and on a recent visit he sent back startling information that shows that for gay and lesbian people in Somalia the issue of death looms large. Whether through suicide following pressure from families or via loosely applied Islamic law that is uncontrolled due to the lack of a central government, their greatest fear is death—a sentence that can be brought upon them just for being homosexual, or for being perceived to be homosexual.

“My people don’t understand what a homosexual is. They only know that through their religious law the solution is to kill. There is no law to protect or help queers in Somalia and Queer Somalia (a community based organisation) cannot be public or make demands on the government because there is no government with whom we can talk. The situation for queer people in Somalia is very dangerous.”

Without official recognition and without a government to lobby, Queer Somalia can do little more than report on the plights of individuals and to host meetings with small groups, acting as a link to the outside world.
. . .
From Mogadishu, Faro learned that, “If a person comes to know that another person is queer the children and women will kill them. There are secret houses that queers meet at and rooms that then have rented. I contacted one of the Somali queers who is living in Mogadishu but he was afraid while I talking to him. When they want to meet each other they have great difficulty, sometimes they do wear women’s clothes, which is a veil (hijab)—muslim clothes.”

“I communicated with another person that is living in Dhagahbur and he told me that he is in bad situation if he doesn’t leave there—he is afraid of death. His family are against him. For many queers in Somalia their greatest worry is their appearance, they have problems coming from their family and that problem is that their family compels them to marry a women and so some commit suicide. This happened to one boy recently in Bosaso in Somali—he killed himself because of the problems he had from his family and normal friends.”

Osmin, another member of Queer Somalia, reported to Faro that in the city of Burao he witnessed gangs of men with guns searching the streets for people they suspected of being gay. “I asked one of the people there, ‘who are these men with guns’ and afterwards I was told that these men were looking for men who have been accused of having sexual relations with other men. These men will go to gaol and be tried by Islamic law.” According to Osmin one of the men was being rounded up simply because he was not married and was considered old enough to have married. “He will get at least 100 lashes for that, another man, who was married, will certainly be killed.”
Death Hangs Over Somali Queers
Behind the Mask, May 3, 2004

18-year old found guilty of sodomy, buried in the ground up to his chest and stoned to death. Judge says sentence more severe than for murder because "homosexuality is more punishable in Islam"

An allegedly gay man Mohamed Ali Baashi was buried in the ground up to his chest and stoned to death on 15 March in Barawe some fifty miles form the Somali capital of Mogadishu. According to reports, Al-Qaeda linked Al Shabaab ordered the attack after charging and finding Baashi guilty of sodomy. Members of Al Shabaab stood behind the judges who passed sentence while wearing face masks and showing off their rifles.

Both Baashi and another man, who was also charged with murder, were found guilty after apparently admitting their crimes. The judge supposedly said “We investigated, and this man did what Muslims shouldn’t do and as a result, he will be stoned to death and the one that killed someone will be shot because homosexuality is more punishable in Islam.”

By investigated, the process likely involved torturing the individuals involved until they confessed, and then executing them. Such actions are typical for Al Shabaab, which has allegedly used Sharia law to execute anyone they wanted to even if they were not guilty of the crimes involved...