|SĂ¶ren Juvas, president of the Swedish national gay group RFSL, has called on the Swedish government to consider evacuating Iraqi gays from Iraq, following release of a Human Rights Watch report confirming that Iraqi militias are murdering gay men in a wi
Iraqi militias are torturing and murdering men suspected of engaging in gay sex or of not being manly enough, and the authorities have done nothing to stop the killings, Human Rights Watch confirmed Aug. 17.
The organization documented a campaign of extrajudicial executions, kidnappings and torture that began early this year in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, a stronghold of Moqtada al-Sadrâs Mahdi Army militia, then spread to other locations.
Mahdi Army spokesmen have denounced what they call the âthird sexâ and the alleged feminization of some Iraqi men, and have proposed militia action as a remedy. HRW said some of its sources reported that state security forces have joined in the killings.
The killers invade homes and grab people on the street, HRW reported. Victims are interrogated for names of others before being murdered. Torture practices include supergluing victimâs anuses shut, then feeding them laxatives.
Iraqi gays also told HRW they face âhonor killingsâ by homophobic parents and brothers who believe âunmanlyâ behavior shames the family or tribe.
âHundreds of men may have died,â HRW said, though the precise figure is âalmost impossibleâ to determine.
One man told HRW that militiamen kidnapped and killed his partner in April: âFour armed men barged into (my partnerâs parentsâ) house, masked and wearing black. They asked for him by name; they insulted him and took him in front of his parents. ... He was found in the neighborhood the day after.
They had thrown his corpse in the garbage. His genitals were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out. Since then, Iâve been unable to speak properly. I feel as if my life is pointless now. ... (F)or years it has just been my boyfriend and myself in that little bubble, by ourselves. I have no family now â I cannot go back to them. I have a death warrant on me. I feel the best thing to do is just to kill myself.â"
Consensual adult gay sex is not illegal under Iraqi law but the militias have claimed to be enforcing Islamic Sharia law. HRWâs report said, however, that the killings also violate Sharia law standards for legality, proof and privacy.
Some Iraqi gays have escaped to nearby countries that are only marginally safer for gay people and where, in most cases, gay sex is illegal. HRW urged the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as well as governments that accept Iraqi refugees, to offer rapid resettlement to Iraqi GLBT people.
Here are some additional personal stories from HRWâs report:
Hamid: â[The killersâ] measuring rod to judge people is who they have sex with. It is not by their conscience, it is not by their conduct or their values, it is who they have sex with. The cheapest thing in Iraq is a human being, a human life. It is cheaper than an animal, than a pair of used-up batteries you buy on the street. Especially people like us. ... I canât believe Iâm here talking to you because itâs all just been repressed, repressed, repressed. For years itâs been like that â if I walk down the street, I would feel everyone pointing at me. I feel as if Iâm dying all the time. And now this, in the last month â I donât understand what we did to deserve this. They want us exterminated. All the violence and all this hatred: the people who are suffering from it donât deserve it.â
Idris: âWeâve been hearing about this, about gay men being killed, for more than a month. Itâs like background noise now, every day. The stories started spreading in February about this campaign against gay people by the Mahdi Army: everyone was talking about it, I was hearing about it from my straight friends. In a coffee shop in Karada, on the streets in Harithiya (Baghdad neighborhoods), they were talking about it. I didnât worry at first. My friends and I, we look extremely masculine, there is nothing visibly âfeminineâ about us. None of us ever, ever believed this would happen to us. But then at the end of March we heard on the street that 30 men had been killed already.â
Mohammad: âThey did many things to us, the Mahdi Army. ... They kidnapped (my partner) for six days. He will not talk about what they did to him. There were bruises on his side as if he was dragged on the street. They did things to him he canât describe, even to me. They wrote in the dust on the windshield of his car: âDeath to the people of Lot and to collaborators.â They sent us veiled threats in text messages: âYou are on the list.â They sent him a piece of paper in an envelope, to his home: there were three bullets wrapped in plastic, of different size. The note said, âWhich one do you want in your heart?â ... I want to be a regular person, lead a normal life, walk around the city, drink coffee on the street. But because of who I am, I canât. There is no way out.â
Nuri: âAt 10 a.m., (Ministry of Interior officers) cuffed my hands behind my back. Then they tied a rope around my legs, and they hung me upside down from a hook in the ceiling, from morning till sunset. I passed out. I was stripped down to my underwear while I hung upside down. They cut me down that night, but they gave me no water or food. Next day, they told me to put my clothes back on and they took me to the investigating officer. He said:
âYou like that? Weâre going to do that to you more and more, until you confess.â Confess to what? I asked. âTo the work you do, to the organization you belong to, and that you are a queen.â For days, there were severe beatings. ... They beat me all over my body; when they had me hanging upside down, they used me like a punching bag. ... They used electric prods all over my body. Then they raped me. Over three days. The first day, 15 of them raped me; the second day, six; the third day, four. There was a bag on my head every time.â
Following the release of the HRW report, Swedenâs national gay group, RFSL, âdemand(ed) that the Swedish government explore the possibility of evacuating gays from Iraq,â said Executive Director Maria SjĂ¶din.
âIt is not enough to condemn the ongoing cleansing,â added RFSL President SĂ¶ren Juvas. âWe encourage Sweden to explore the possibilities of evacuating homosexuals, bisexuals and transgenders who face the risk of sexual cleansing.â
For a PDF of HRWâs full 67-page report, visit bit.ly/1cWi7D. (From HRW and RFSL press material)
Argentine Govt. Agency Rules Against âGay Cureâ Event
The Argentine Justice Ministryâs National Institute Against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism (INADI) has ruled that a âgay cureâ conference in CĂłrdoba engaged in prohibited discrimination by implying that gays are sick.
Acting on a complaint filed by gay activist VĂctor Bracuto against the Integra Group Foundation, INADI determined that âholding a conference on sexual health, which has among its objectives âcuring the homosexual,â is discriminatory in terms of article 1 of Law 23,592.â
INADI interpreted that lawâs ban on discrimination based on sex as including sexual orientation and explained: âHomophobia is defined as intolerance or scorn toward gays and lesbians. That is to say, discrimination, hate, fear, prejudice or aversion against homosexual persons.â
The law states in part, âAnyone who arbitrarily impedes, obstructs, restricts or otherwise impairs the full exercise on an equal basis of the fundamental rights and guarantees recognized in the National Constitution will be compelled, at the request of the victim, to nullify the discriminatory act or cease its execution and to repair the moral injury and material damage.â
INADIâs determination in the case is nonbinding and Bracuto said he plans no further legal moves.
The ruling by itself, he said, was âa historical development not only in Argentina but perhaps also in Latin America and the world.â
New Arrests for Same-Sex Relations in Senegal
There have been new arrests and convictions for same-sex relations in Senegal, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission reported Aug. 20.
Two men from the town of Darou Mousty were convicted in mid-August of illegal sexual acts âagainst natureâ and jailed for two and five years respectively, IGLHRC said.
A third man, age 17, arrested at the same time faced trial Aug. 24. The situation of a fourth man arrested at the same time is unknown.
IGLHRC said âdenunciations from neighbors were the only evidence against the men.â
There has been a series of anti-gay arrests in Senegal since early 2008 for such âcrimesâ as âhomosexuality,â âincitement to debauchery,â âcorruption of good behavior,â âacts against the order of nature,â âindecent conductâ and âhomosexual marriage,â IGLHRC said.
The group also reported recent incidents of desecration of gay menâs graves and exhumation of their bodies.
âIn May 2009, the body of 30-year old MadiĂšye Diallo was dug up from his grave in the town of ThiĂšs,â IGLHRC said. âAfter his family re-buried him, his body was exhumed again and dumped outside the familyâs home. Finally, family members buried the body in the grounds of their own house.â
Prime Minister Souleymane NdĂ©nĂ© Ndiaye said in May that âhomosexuality ... is a sign of a crisis of values,â ILGHRC said. Senegalâs penal code punishes gay sex with up to five years in prison and a $3,000 fine.
-assistance: Bill Kelley