Six Gay Iraqis Murdered After Clerics Demanded Crackdown

Jim Burroway

April 4th, 2009

Reuters is reporting that two gay men have been found murdered in Baghdad’s Sadr City, and four other bodies have turned up elsewhere following sermons by clerics demanding a crackdown on LGBT people in Iraq. Anti-gay sermons have been read at the last two Friday prayer gatherings in the Shi’ite slum of Sadr City.

The situation in Iraq appears to be rapidly deteriorating:

Homosexuality is prohibited almost everywhere in the Middle East, but conditions have become especially dangerous for gays and lesbians in Iraq since the rise of religious militias after U.S.-led forces toppled Saddam Hussein six years ago.

“Two young men were killed on Thursday. They were sexual deviants. Their tribes killed them to restore their family honor,” a Sadr City official who declined to be named said.

The police source who declined to be named said the bodies of four gay men were unearthed in Sadr City on March 25, each bearing a sign reading “pervert” in Arabic on their chests.

Reuters reports that many young men are wearing their hair short and cutting their beards in a more Western style, eschewing the traditional long hair and beards which were enforced by religious militias like the Mehdi Army in Sadr City. Those men, whether they are gay or not, are being singled out in the latest sermons and waves of attacks. The Mehdi Army denies involvement in these killings, but said that homosexuality became more widespread in the slums since they relinquished control:

“This (homosexuality) has spread because of the absence of the Mehdi Army, the spread of sexual films and satellite television and a lack of government surveillance,” said the office’s Sheikh Ibrahim al-Gharawi, a Shi’ite cleric.

Homosexuality is illegal in Iraq, punishable by imprisonment for up to seven years.

Stefano A

April 4th, 2009

I’m not asking this to in any way diminish or mitigate the deaths and persecutions of gays in Iraq. I’m questioning this because for months I have been trying to locate the source of such claims by Reuters of a specific law regarding homosexual acts.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) states:

Although the Iraqi penal code does not prohibit sexual activity between consenting same-sex adults, the chaos caused by ongoing war enables death squads to persecute gay men and lesbians.

The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) in their report, State-Sponsored Homophobia 2008: A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults states:

Iraq reinstated the Penal Code of 1969 after the American invasion in 2003. The Penal Code does not prohibit sexual activities between consenting adults of the same sex. However, as the country is under war, and law enforcement is not functioning properly, death squads operate in the country, killing homosexuals.

Likewise, the USDOS Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2008 makes no mention of laws “prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults”. In addition, neither Amnesty International nor Human Rights Watch make any citation of such a law.

It is unknown what the source is for Reuters claim that “Homosexual acts are punishable by up to seven years in prison in Iraq.” Does anyone know what their source is that shows the Iraqi law penal codes being amended differently than the ILGA report states?


April 4th, 2009

What is going on in the world? Jamaica, Several countries in Africa, now this… It’s like there is a madness, an anti-gay hysteria that is descending over the non-western world.

L. Junius Brutus

April 4th, 2009

Will Exodus now go to Iraq to spread its ‘love’?

Priya Lynn

April 4th, 2009

Sharon, I don’t think this just started recently, its been going on for the last 100 years or so, its only that recently its getting more attention.


April 4th, 2009

Priya: It’s been going on for 2,000 years in the Christian and Islamic worlds. It’s only recently that gay people have tried to win some respect, and that has provoked a backlash from people who are knocked out of their religious comfort zones and thus see men sleeping with men and women sleeping with women as unforgivable, but see killing them as holy.


April 4th, 2009

Stefano A,

There may not be any statutes on the books in Iraq that specifically prohibit sex between consenting adults of the same gender, but under Islamic sharia law homosexuality is still punishable by death. For many, religious law may be the only law they are worrying about. That could explain the inconsistencies in these kind of reports and the research you cited in your post.

Stefano A

April 4th, 2009


Yes. The following of Sharia law and tribal laws as it relates to “honor killings” often lies behind such murders. However, Reuters (and other sources) have been refering to the Iraqi penal codes (not de facto tribal or Sharia beliefs), and it is the source of the changes to that law to which they refer that I have been trying to identify.


April 5th, 2009

From “corrective Rape” in South Africa to “honor killings” in Iraq. I know it’s been going on for many many yeas, but none the less terrifying to a Westerner who cannot fathom such a consequence for being made in God’s very own image. Irony and hypocricisy of such laws is destructive to lives, cultures, and so many generations of families. Truly sad.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts


Another Temporary Hiatus

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1971: Minnesota Couple Stake Claim To First American Same-Sex Marriage

Today's Agenda Is Brought To You By...

Today In History, 1954: "Perverts Vanish" From Miami

Born On This Day, 1907: Evelyn Hooker

Born On This Day, 1925: Fr. John J. McNeill

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.