Horror Stories

Iraq’s Gays: Trapped By Fear of Torture and Murder


While we wait for the United Nations and the U.S. State Department and Hillary Clinton to respond to requests to investigate the torture and murder of gay Iraqis — something Reps. Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin tried getting President Bush’s Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to do back in 2007 — the media (along with aid groups like Amnesty International) is picking up some of the slack. The Times has weighed in. CNN too. NBC News hits this week.

So where are these attacks happening?

Most of the attacks have happened in Baghdad’s Shia neighborhoods, and many believe that religious leaders have used Friday sermons in Sadr City as a platform to incite hatred and violence toward homosexuals. The bodies of three gay men were reported to have been found in Sadr City in April with pieces of paper bearing the word for “pervert” attached to them. Posters and leaflets have been distributed in the Baghdad neighborhoods of al-Shola, al-Hurya and Sadr City with orders to, “Cleanse Iraq from the crime of homosexuality.”

And how do they go down?

Moyad [a 38-year-old Baghdad resident] described a recent crusade by vigilantes in which young men were tortured with hoses and shot. “For some time I never went out of my house,” he said. “I also had the feeling that they would break in and get me.”

Noor, a 24-year-old lesbian who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said it is easier for her to conceal her sexuality, but she is still frightened about the possibility of being exposed – especially knowing that some of her friends were killed by the militias. “They were burned in Kadhimiya, Hurriya Al-Olaa, Hurriya Al-Thaniya, Dolaai and Dabaash.”

Moyad believes that many have been killed by their own families in an effort to preserve their honor. “My friend Ahmed, from the neighborhood of Zafaraniya, was killed by his family for looking like a female. Those commandos tell the families to kill them or else they will kill them. I expect that my own brother might lead those guys to kill me.”

Are the police any help in investigating the situation?

Baghdad police didn’t respond to inquiries from NBC News about the attacks, but the surge in violence has gained attention by the international media.