An influential Iraqi Ayatollah has removed an order (fatwa) calling for the killing of gay men from his website. But he has not removed a demand for punishment against lesbians.

Following discussions with a gay rights organisation – Iraqi LGBT – Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has agreed to remove the fatwa against gay men – which called for the killing of homosexuals in the “worst, most severe way possible”.

Iraqi LGBT’s London representatives had protested to Sistani’s office after the fatwa was published on the website. After a spate of recent negotiations, it was removed last week. However, while the order has been taken off the site, it does not mean that it has been rescinded. The site also continues to order punishment against lesbianism.

Ali Hili, who heads the gay rights organisation Iraqi LGBT – UK said that, “This decision does not go far enough…We want the entire fatwa withdrawn, including the hateful denunciation calling for the punishment of lesbians”.

“Iraqi LGBT-UK urges Sistani to apologise and revoke his fatwa calling for the murder of homosexuals, and to issue a new fatwa condemning all vigilante violence, including vigilante attacks on gay and lesbian people” he added.

Sistani’s fatwa has been blamed for motivating a number of reported attacks and killings of homosexuals in Iraq, including the recent murder of a 14 year old.

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