According to new reports, death squads are continuing to target gay and lesbian people for execution in Iraq.
“Iraqi lesbians and gays continue to be subjected to a systematic reign of terror by Shia death squads. The government of Iraq refuses to crack down on the killers or to take any action to protect its gay citizens. It is a regime that is dominated by Shia fanatics and homophobes,” says Ali Hili, the coordinator of the human rights group Iraqi LGBT.
According to the London-based Hili, “Supporters of the fundamentalist Sadr and Badr militias boast that they are cleansing Iraq of what they call ‘sexual perverts’. They are open about terrorising gay Iraqis to make them flee the country and murdering those who fail to leave. Their goal is a queer-free, pro-homophobic Iraq. They are dragging our country back to the dark ages.”
The United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) has corroborated Iraqi LGBT’s claims of “sexual cleansing” by the death squads and Islamist courts:
“Armed Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly hostile towards homosexuals, frequently and openly engaging in violent campaigns against them,” January’s UNAMI report said.
“There have been a number of assassinations of homosexuals in Iraq… At least five homosexual males were reported to have been kidnapped from Shaab area in the first week of November (2006) by one of the main militias. The mutilated body of Amjad, one of the kidnapped, appeared in the same area after a few days. [We were] also alerted to the existence of religious courts, supervised by clerics, where homosexuals allegedly would be ‘tried,’ ‘sentenced’ to death and then executed,” UNAMI said.
This UNAMI report provoked a hostile reaction from the government of Iraq, which suggested that gay people are unIraqi and unIslamic:
“There was information in the report that we cannot accept here in Iraq. The report, for example, spoke about the phenomenon of homosexuality and giving them their rights,” said Mr al-Dabbagh, a spokesperson for the Iraqi government. “Such statements are not suitable to the Iraqi society. This is rejected. They [the UN] should respect the values and traditions here in Iraq.”
The UK-based gay rights group OutRage! is working with Iraqi LGBT to support its work. “The world ignores the fate of LGBT Iraqis at its peril. Their fate today is the fate of all Iraqis tomorrow”, says Peter Tatchell from OutRage!