The bodies of gay Iraqis said to have
been assassinated because of their sexuality
by religious death squads.

Iraqi LGBT activists report that police have conducted another raid against the LGBT community, this time on a Baghdad male beauty parlour.

According to the London-based organisation Iraqi LGBT, five gay men were arrested by Interior Ministry forces in the June 25 raid on a house used as a business for services such as waxing and massage in Baghdad.

Iraqi media coverage, which included three days of TV reports, described the house as being used for prostitution.

However, witnesses told Iraqi LGBT that this was not the case. Neither waxing nor massage is illegal in Iraq although it is ‘forbidden’ by Shia clerics.

The London group claims that the raid was intended to target gay men. Eyewitnesses who were outside the building say Ministry of Interior forces raided at 3pm. Those on rooftops heard screams for help and saw the men being severely beaten by uniformed men carrying cattle prods.

They say one man was taken into custody on a stretcher, Iraqi LGBT reports. The raid follows an earlier police raid on a Kerbala ‘safe house’ for gays, run by Iraqi LGBT.

The organisation has called on the British and American governments to follow the lead of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and investigate – and condemn – the raids. Iraqi LGBT said that it has documented the deaths of 738 LGBT people in the country over the last five years.

“Hundreds of lesbians and gays have been killed to near silence by the world,” Iraqi LGBT’s Ali Hili told UK Gay News.

“What needs to happen – what can we do – before the world pays any attention, and before people start pressing their leaders to tell the Iraqi government to stop? What? We plead for an answer,” he said in desperation.

Iraqi LGBT said that it had received no information about where the men arrested in the raid were taken. It added, however, that previous seizures of gays, lesbians and transgender people have resulted in them being handed to religious militia and their subsequent torture. Often this is followed by the discovery of their mutilated bodies.

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