A leading gay activist in Iraq has been assassinated. 27 year old Bashar was targeted by gunmen yesterday.

He was one of the organisers of safe houses for gay men in Baghdad and was co-ordinator of Iraqi LGBT in the city.

Peter Tatchell of LGBT human rights group OutRage! said:

“On 25th September, I received the sad news from Iraq that the coordinator of Iraqi LGBT in Baghdad, Bashar, aged 27, a university student, was assassinated in a barber shop.

“Militias burst in and sprayed his body with bullets at point blank range.

“He was the organiser of the safe houses for gays and lesbians in Baghdad. His efforts saved the lives of dozens of people.

“Bashar was a kind, generous and extremely brave young man – a true hero who put his life on the line to save the lives of others.

“My thoughts go out to his loved ones and to the other members of Iraqi LGBT.

“Their courage is an inspiration to all people everywhere fighting against tyranny and injustice,” said Mr Tatchell.

A UN report in 2007 highlighted attacks on gays by militants and religious courts, supervised by clerics, where homosexuals allegedly would be ‘tried,’ ‘sentenced’ to death and then executed.
“Violence against gays has intensified sharply since late 2005, when Iraq’s leading Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, issued a fatwa, or religious decree, which declared that gays and lesbians should be ‘killed in the worst, most severe way possible,” said Alli HIli of Iraqi LGBT.

“Since then, LGBT people have been specifically targeted by the Madhi Army, the militia of fundamentalist Shia cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, as well as by the Badr organisation and other Shia death squads.

“Badr is the military arm of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is one of the leading political forces in Baghdad’s western-backed ruling coalition,” said Mr Hili.