Human Rights Watch released a report yesterday that indicates hundreds of Iraqi gay men have been kidnapped, tortured and murdered since the beginning of 2009. The report claims that Iraqi authorities have not acted to stop militias that are actively targeting men suspected of engaging in homosexual conduct and may be complicit in some attacks.
The report cites a militia member who told a reporter in May that the spike in anti-gay violence is to combat “a serious illness in the community that has been spreading rapidly among the youth after it was brought in from the outside by American soldiers. These are not the habits of Iraq or our community and we must eliminate them…. Our aim is not to destabilize the security situation. Our aim is to help stabilize society.” However, Human Rights Watch researcher Rasha Moumneh says, “Murder and torture are no way to enforce morality…. These killings point to the continuing and lethal failure of Iraq’s post-occupation authorities to establish the rule of law and protect their citizens.”
The report includes interviews with many gay Iraqi men. One man told researchers: “They 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 can’t describe, even to me…. They sent us veiled threats in text messages: ‘You are on the list.’ They sent him a piece of paper in an envelope, to his home: there were three bullets wrapped in plastic, of different size[s]. The note said, ‘Which one do you want in your heart?’…. 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 can’t. There is no way out.”