A gay rights group will hold an anti war protest in London this weekend after a senior Iraqi Shia leader called for homosexuals to be killed in the “”worst, most severe way,” according to gay rights activists.

Outrage claim that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani of Iraq is encouraging the murder of gays and lesbians through his website where he replied to a question on sodomy and lesbianism saying it is punishable by death.

“Sistani’s murderous homophobic incitement has given a green light to Shia Muslims to hunt and kill lesbians and gay men,” said exiled gay Iraqi, Ali Hili, an OutRage member.

Mr Hili also heads up the new Iraqi LGBT – UK Abu Nawas group, which consists of exiled gay Iraqis and has close links with clandestine gay activists inside Iraq.

“We hold Sistani personally responsible for the murder of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Iraqis. He gives the killers theological sanction and encouragement.”

“Evidence we have received from our underground gay contacts inside Iraq suggests intensified homophobic abuse, threats, intimidation and violence by fundamentalist supporters of Sistani.”

He revealed concerns that the Iraqi government consulted with the spiritual leader on political social and moral issues, “Sistani is not even Iraqi. He is an Iranian national who has set

himself up as a religious leader in Iraq. He wants to impose an Iranian-style theocracy on the Iraqi people.”

The activist also claimed that Mr al-Sistani is the leader of Iraq’s main fundamentalist movement, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI.)

He said: “The Badr Corps, which is the armed wing of SCIRI, has instituted a witch-hunt of lesbian and gay Iraqis, including violent beatings, kidnappings and assassinations.”

“Badr agents have a network of informers who, among other things, target alleged ‘immoral behaviour’. They kill gays, unveiled women, prostitutes, people who sell or drink alcohol, and those who listen to western music and wear western fashions.”

“Badr militants are entrapping gay men via internet chat rooms. They arrange a date, and then beat and kill the victim.”

Mr Hili reported several Iraqi’s who were allegedly murdered for being gay, “Our sources inside Iraq report the murders of the following gay and bisexual men. All the killings bear the hallmarks of the execution-style murders for which the Badr organisation is notorious.”

“Haydar Faiek, aged 40, a transsexual Iraqi, was beaten and burned to death by Badr militias in the main street in the Al-Karada district of Baghdad in September 2005.”

“Sarmad and Khalid were partners who lived in the Al-Jameha area of Baghdad. Persons unknown revealed their same-sex relationship. They were abducted by the Badr organisation in April 2005. Their bodies were found two months later, in June, bound, blindfolded and shot in the back of the head.”

The group said the demonstration, from noon on Saturday, will highlight the terrorisation of LGBTs in Iraq by the Shia Islamic fundamentalists.

An SCIRI spokesman was unavailable for comment.