Iraq: LGBT People Are Targeted by the Madhi Army, Militia of Fundamentalist Shia Cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, Shia Militant Death Squads and Badr Organization
Since the US invasion of Iraq, gays and transgendered people have suffered intense persecution. This targeted violence has been documented and acknowledged in recent State Department and United Nations reports.
Violence against gays has intensified sharply since late 2005, when Iraq’s leading Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, issued a fatwa, or religious decree, which declared that gays and lesbians should be “killed in the worst, most severe way,” Ali Hili said.
Since then, LGBT people have been specifically targeted by the Madhi Army, the militia of fundamentalist Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, as well as other Shia militant death squads. The Badr Organization, the military arm of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq and one of the leading political forces in Baghdad’s ruling coalition, has been particularly active.
Several months ago, two lesbians working with Iraqi LGBT were assassinated in the safe house they were running in Najaf, along with a young boy the women had rescued from the local sex industry.
“These people have given their lives,” Peter Tatchel of British gay rights group Outrage! said of Iraqi LGBT’s work during a phone interview last week. “And the group’s members inside Iraq have managed to save lives.”
Hili said that in addition to the raid on Iraqi LGBTs headquarters last year, there are other credible reports of gay men being arrested and executed by the Iraqi police.
Although British and Canadian news organizations have reported on the persecution of Iraqi gays, the issue has largely been ignored by mainstream US media.
Veteran investigative journalist Doug Ireland was the first to break the story for an American publication, GayCityNews, last year. Ireland has continued to file reports on the increasingly precarious situation for Iraq’s gays.
“Every LGBT person is in danger”
The chaotic situation in Iraq makes it impossible to document precisely how many gay, transgender and lesbian individuals have been killed as a result of their sexuality or gender expression. But Hili said his group has specific knowledge of hundreds of cases of homophobic persecutions. Every LGBT person in Iraq is in danger, he said…