Current Affairs

Gay Iraqis face death squads

Katherine Knowles March 22, 2006
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Death Squads searching for gay men are active in Iraq, claims exiled poet Ali Hili. Transsexuals, he claims, are being burned and beaten to death in Baghdad.

The murdered Iraqi men are “usually discovered with their hands bound behind their back, blindfolds over their eyes and bullet wounds in the back of the head”, Mr Hili asserts.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa against lesbian and gay people on his website, which has caused a surge in homophobic violence both in Iraq, and in Muslim communities in the UK. The cleric, who was nominated by Iraq for the Nobel peace prize in 2005 answered the question ” what is your judgement on sodomy and lesbianism?” with the words “forbidden. Those involved in the act should be punished. In fact, sodomites should be killed in the worst possible manner”.

Worrying, reports suggest that the militant wing of fundamentalist group The Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) has taken this instruction to heart. “Evidence we have received from our underground gay contacts inside Iraq suggests intensified homophobic abuse, threats, intimidation and violence,” said Mr Hili, who now runs the human rights organisation OutRage. Mr Hili feared that the Badr Corps, the militant wing of the SCIRI might be taking what little law there currently is in the troubled country into its own hands.

“Intimidation, beatings, kidnappings and murders of gays have become an almost daily event,” he claims. He said that many gay people had been forced to go into hiding for their own safety. Men in contact with OutRage had described feelings of terror and restrictive, desperate living conditions. One man writing on an internet blog describes his feelings of despair: “Sometimes I think there is no way out. I wish I was dead, but I am alive”.

“Gay Iraqis are living in fear of discovery and death,” said Mr Hili.

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