Isis militants execute four men for homosexuality as cleric calls for end to anti-LGBT violence


Isis-executes-four-for-homosexuality-despite-anti-violence-call-by-clericIsis militants have ignored a condemnation of anti-gay violence by prominent Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr and executed four men on charges of homosexuality and sodomy.

Iraqi News reports that the four victims, two of whom were Isis members, were thrown off the top of the former National Insurance building in Mosul in Iraq on Saturday.

A crowd of residents, including children, gathered below to watch the executions. Isis members made sure that the men were dead by throwing rocks at their already shattered bodies on the ground.

The murders come more than a month after al-Sadr’s July 7 statement banning violence against LGBT people and those who do not conform to gender norms.

Isis is unlikely to have heeded the call, however, as the group consists of Sunni Muslims and has declared war again Shia Muslims, which al-Sadr represents. (Isis believes that Shias are apostates who do not fully follow Islam and must thus be eradicated.)

The cleric’s groundbreaking statement was, nevertheless, welcomed by Human Rights Watch. It noted that since early 2009, al-Sadr’s own Mahdi Army has been among the militia groups that have conducted kidnappings, executions, and torture of gay men and men perceived to be gay in Iraq.

“Finally, the head of one of the groups whose members have carried out serious abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Iraq is condemning these heinous attacks,” said Joe Stork, Deputy Middle East Director. “We hope this will change behaviour in successors to the Mahdi Army and other ranks, and spur the government to hold accountable those who commit these crimes.”

Al-Sadr’s statement expresses his view that same-sex relationships and cross-dressing are not acceptable, but that gender non-conforming people – whom al-Sadr claims are suffering from “psychological problems” – nevertheless deserve the right to live. “[You] must disassociate from them [but] not attack them, as it increases their aversion and you must guide them using acceptable and rational means,” the statement reads.

Despite the lack of full tolerance in al-Sadr’s statement, his call to end violence against LGBT people is an important step, Human Rights Watch said. It urged the religious leader to ensure that those in the ranks of the militia under his command obey the order and hold accountable commanders who do not.

Human Rights Watch also urged Iraq’s government to take its own measures to ensure that attacks on LGBT people are punished and to decriminalise extra-marital sexual relations.

“While al-Sadr is still a long way from fully embracing human rights for LGBT people, his statement shows that he understands the importance of stopping abuses against them,” Stork said. “The statement represents an important change in the right direction, and should be followed by concrete actions to protect LGBT people from violence.”

Saturday’s killings are among dozens of public murders of gay men and those accused of being gay by Isis since 2014. The radical group is a proponent of a radical interpretation of sharia religious law which allows for the execution of people for “morality” crimes, including adultery and homosexuality.

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