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New wave of attacks on ‘gays and lesbians’ in Iraq

Militia accused of kidnapping, beating and killing 40 Iraqis perceived as ‘gay’ or ‘too masculine or feminine’
Militia men tried kill Nassr in 2009, he still lives in Baghdad. Nassr bears scars on his chin and throat after they attempted to slit it..
Photo by Bradley Secker and Gay Middle East.

Militia have launched a new wave of attacks against Iraqis perceived to be gay, lesbian or 'too masculine or feminine', according to he International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).

The organization says it has been told by Iraqi human rights activists that the renewed targeting started in early February this year.

An unidentified group posted death threats against ‘the adulterous individuals’ in the predominantly Shiite neighborhoods of Baghdad and Basra. The threats gave the individuals, whose names and ages were listed, four days to stop their behavior or else face the ‘wrath of god’.

Iraq observers say attackers are targeting men who are seen as ‘too feminine’ and women who are perceived as ‘masculine’ rather than focusing solely on people’s sexuality.

Sources inside Iraq say this new surge of anti-gay violence has seen close to 40 people kidnapped, brutally tortured and murdered.

IGLHCR say the Iraqi authorities have neither responded to this targeted violence nor have they publicly denounced it. It is widely believed that these atrocities are being committed by a group of the Shiite militia.

According to Iraqi LGBT, a London and Iraq based activist group, since the US invasion of 2003 over 750 LGBT people were reported murdered in Iraq, many of them due to so called ‘honor killings’.

Speaking with Gay Star News, Bissam, an independent Iraqi LGBT activist, who was forced himself to flee the country and now lives in exile said: 'This is happening all the time.

‘I had a confirmed report in October 2011 from a gay young man who lives in Baghdad, his name is Haider, that Almehdi militia are threatening that they are coming back and they will kill gays. For some reason some of the militia men knew about him being gay because he was told they came looking for him, so he fled his home and was hiding.

‘Last I heard from him was in late November but don’t know what happened to him. Many men get kidnapped and go missing all the time. He also reported that this has been happening to many of his friends.’

According to Bissam this most frequently happening in central Iraq ‘but happens everywhere there, I don't know about north of Iraq, but when I was in Sulaimania, one of the three big cities in north Iraq, I saw young men who looked very feminine being harassed and the arrested.’

The situation is getting increasingly worse reports Bissam who claims the prime minister, Nouri Al-Maliki, ‘supported by the USA and Iran,’ knows about the incidents.

He claims Al-Maliki has actively campaigned for countries to repatriate Iraqi refugees fleeing such violence who ‘were detained at the airport and beaten and god knows what happens to them later’.

Bissam recently started to blog to publicize how desperate the situation is.

He said: ‘We all want to speak, put some pressure on Al-Maliki government. But the question is how? Because he knows and supports all these actions against the Iraqi LGBT, in particular and Sunna in general. Working against these people needs lots of support and real plan.’

Cary Alan Johnson, the executive director of IGLHRC said the Iraqi government must rise to its obligations as a sovereign democratic country.

‘As such, it must protect all of its citizens including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from hate-filled violence and death at the hands of armed militias,’ he said.

‘Vigilantes who perpetuate the targeted killing of those perceived to be gay or lesbian must not be tolerated in a new Iraq. We have seen these atrocities before.

‘In 2009 vigilantes murdered hundreds of Iraqi individuals for their perceived sexual orientation. There are no excuses for such heinous human rights violations. We demand that the Iraqi government put a stop to the wanton persecution and killing of gay people, and that the perpetrators punished.'

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