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.

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