Human Rights Watch: Iraq militia death squads killing gays
This week, New York based Human Rights Watch released a scathing report on the organized killings of gay men in Iraq.
Based on interviews with more than 50 gay Iraqis, many of whom have fled the capital of Baghdad, the report details the recent rise in killings of gay men after the U.S. surge. The report blames militia groups like the Mahdi Army, active in the Sadr City neighborhood in Baghdad as behind many of the killings, an attempt to cleanse the city of sexual minorities and regain control as general violence has ebbed.
HRW also points blame at the U.S. government and the Iraqi government for inaction, as well as Iraq’s homophobic cultural norms. Speaking about the report, human rights advocates and Iraqi politicians have commented on the difficulty in policing violent hate crimes in a society which treats gays harshly. In addition to militias specifically targeting gays, the report mentions honor killings have occurred when family members have targeted gay men out of shame.
The report confirms details of violence, against as many as hundreds of gay men. Victims have suffered horrific mutilation and torture, including anal gluing and bodies turning up in garbage bins or on the street as warnings to other gay men. Some corpses had the words “Pervert” or “Puppy,” a local slang term for gay men, carved into their skin. Human Rights Watch is urging the Iraqi government to do more on the issue, warning it is a sign of future violence and the resurgence of the militias following the U.S. pullout.
–Michael Luongo in northern Iraq