Gays Targeted for Violence in Iraq

The ongoing security fears every Iraqi grapples with are multiplied for members of the country’s gay community, which is being targeted for punishment by homegrown militias across the country, Human Rights Watch says in a new report.

Several hundred men are believed to have lost their lives as a result of a campaign against gays that began in earnest in the Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City earlier this year and has spread to other cities, according to the report, “They Want Us Exterminated: Murder, Torture, Sexual Orientation and Gender in Iraq.”

Punishments carried out by militia members range from beatings and grotesque bodily mutilations we won’t describe here, to murder. Many survivors report being tortured for the purpose of providing names of other homosexuals.

Witnesses and survivors recount security forces ignoring or participating in the abuse. To date, no charges have been brought against the perpetrators.

“Iraq’s leaders are supposed to defend all Iraqis, not abandon them to armed agents of hate. Turning a blind eye to torture and murder threatens the rights and life of every Iraqi,” Scott Long, director of HRW’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program said in a press release.

HRW is calling on Iraqi authorities to do more to end the campaign and punish those responsible, and to increase human rights training for security forces.

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