We've moved! To our new website www.iraqilgbt.org.uk

Ali must travel!

Iraqi LGBT is being blocked from advocating for the group by the UK government — find out how you can help.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007


Baghdad refuses to protect gays and denounces UN report

London – 3 April 2007

“Iraqi lesbians and gays continue to be subjected a systematic reign
of terror by Shia death squads. The government of Iraq refuses to
crack down on the killers or to take any action to protect its gay
citizens. It is a regime that is dominated by Shia fanatics and
homophobes,” according to Ali Hili, the coordinator of the human
rights group Iraqi LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender).

Mr Hili lists below a few examples of the many death squad killings of
gay Iraqis.

“Supporters of the fundamentalist Sadr and Badr militias boast that
they are cleansing Iraq of what they call ‘sexual perverts’. They are
open about terrorising gay Iraqis to make them flee the country and
murdering those who fail to leave. Their goal is a queer-free,
pro-homophobic Iraq. They are dragging our country back to the dark
ages,” said the London-based Mr Hili, who is also Middle East
spokesperson for the gay human rights group, OutRage!

“Some members of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government are
linked to the anti-gay death squads. They are the political
representatives of the Muqtada al-Sadr movement and the Supreme
Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Both these parties
have militias, respectively the Mahdi army and the Badr brigades, who
are responsible for the execution-style killing of lesbian and gay
Iraqis – and the murder of many other Iraqis, including Sunni Muslims,
trade unionists, unveiled women, journalists and men wearing shorts,
jeans or western-style haircuts.

“The murder of gay Iraqis has the support of highly influential
religious leaders, such as Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. He issued a
fatwa in late 2005, calling for the execution of gay people in the
‘most severe way possible’. After international protests, he removed
the fatwa from his website, but the fatwa itself has not been
rescinded. It remains in force and is the spiritual sanction for the
death squads to murder gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people,”
said Mr Hili.

The United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) has corroborated
Iraqi LGBT’s claims of “sexual cleansing” by the death squads and
Islamist courts:

"Armed Islamic groups and militias have been known to be particularly
hostile towards homosexuals, frequently and openly engaging in violent
campaigns against them," January’s UNAMI report said.

"There have been a number of assassinations of homosexuals in Iraq…At
least five homosexual males were reported to have been kidnapped from
Shaab area in the first week of November (2006) by one of the main
militias. The mutilated body of Amjad, one of the kidnapped, appeared
in the same area after a few days. [We were] also alerted to the
existence of religious courts, supervised by clerics, where
homosexuals allegedly
would be 'tried,' 'sentenced' to death and then executed," UNAMI

This UNAMI report provoked a hostile reaction from the government of
Iraq, which suggested that gay people are unIraqi and unIslamic:

“There was information in the report that we cannot accept here in
Iraq. The report, for example, spoke about the phenomenon of
homosexuality and giving them their rights," said Mr al-Dabbagh, a
spokesperson for the Iraqi government. "Such statements are not
suitable to the Iraqi society. This is rejected. They (the UN) should
respect the values and traditions here in Iraq.”

Iraq’s many LGBT victims of the death squads

Here are details of a few of the LGBTs who have been murdered in Iraq
in recent months:

“Anwar, aged 34, a taxi driver, was a member of Iraqi LGBT and helped
run one of the group’s safe houses in the city of Najaf. He
disappeared in January 2007. He was arrested in his taxi after being
stopped at a police and militia checkpoint. His body was found in
March 2007. He had been subjected to an execution-style killing.

“Nouri, aged 29, a tailor, was kidnapped in the city of Karbala in
February 2007. He had received many death threats by letter and phone
in the past, accusing him of leading a gay life. He was found dead a
few days later, with his body mutilated and his head severed.

“Hazim, a 21-year-old man, was taken by police officers from his house
in Baghdad in February 2007. He was well-known to be gay. After
threats because of his homosexuality, his family was forced to leave
their home. Hazim’s body was subsequently found with several shots to
the head.

“Sayf, a gay 25-year-old, worked for the Iraqi police as a translator.
He was kidnapped in the Al-Adhamya suburb by black masked men in
Ministry of Interior security force uniforms who drove a marked police
car. Almost certainly they were members of the Badr militia which has
infiltrated the Interior Ministry and police. Sayf’s body was found
several days later, with his head cut off.

“Khaldon, a 45 year old gay man lived in al-Hurriya, a mainly Shia
neighborhood of Baghdad. He worked as a chef. The Sadr militia, the
Mahdi army, kidnapped him in November 2006. His decaying corpse was
found in February 2007.

“Khalid, a 19 year old gay man, a college student who lived in
al-Kadomya, was kidnapped in December 2006. Three months later, his
family was handed his tortured and burned remains.

“Hasan Sabeh, a 34 year old transvestite - also known as Tamara -
worked in the fashion industry designing women’s clothes. He lived in
the al-Mansor district of Baghdad. Hasan was seized in the street by
an Islamist death squad and hanged in public on the holy Shia
religious day, 11 January 2007. His body was mutilated and cut to
pieces. When his brother-in-law tried to defend him, he was also

“Four gay friends had been receiving threatening letters at their
Baghdad houses. All four were arrested on 26 December 2006 by militia
at a roadside checkpoint. They were interrogated about whether they
were Sunnis. Their identity cards showed that three of the men were
Shia. These three men were released after several hours of
interrogation. The fourth man, Samer, a 26 year old a Sunni who lived
in Zayona, was later found with gunshot wounds to his head, his eyes
blindfolded and his hands tied behind his back. His body showed marks
of torture and many burns. It is not clear whether Samer was executed
because he was Sunni or gay or both.

“Alan Thomas, was a 23 year old, Christian gay Iraqi who lived in
al-Gadeer, a Shia majority district of Baghdad. He received many
threats for being gay and was eventually kidnapped and executed by
Shia death squads in late 2006. His older sister spoke to me over the
phone from Baghdad; explaining how the murder of her only brother
caused the death of their sick elderly mother. She told me: ‘The new
Iraqi evil regime does not provide effective protection to the
population of Iraq. Shia militias act in collusion with security
force gangs to take revenge on the Sunni’s and other minorities.’

“Occasionally, some victims of the fundamentalists have been able to
buy their survival. Hamid A, a 44 year old bisexual man, from the
Al-Talibya district. He was kidnapped twice by the Sadr militia. The
first instance was in April 2006 when he, his nephew and his brother
were kidnapped and tortured. He was released in May 2006 after his
tribe members paid a huge ransom to save his life and the lives of his
relatives. Hamid was kidnapped for a second time in November 2006 by
the same Sadr militia, when an informant reported that he was drinking
alcohol and that he was suspected of being gay. He was held in a big
office in Sadr city, along with other detainees - most of them Sunnis
and Christians. Again, he was ransomed and is now in hiding; a rare
survivor of the Sadr militia interrogation centres.

“Heterosexual friends of gays are also executed. This happened to
Majid Sahi, aged 28, a civil engineer. He had been helping Iraqi LGBT
members in Baghdad. Abducted by the Badr militia from his home, they
objected to his association with gay Iraqis. His family was advised by
the Badr forces that their son’s “immoral behavior” was the reason for
his kidnapping. His body was found in Baghdad, with bullet wounds in
the back of his head, on 23 February 2007.

Photos of some of these victims are available here:


NB: Sorry, we do not have high resolution versions.

“Despite the great danger involved, Iraqi LGBT has established a
clandestine network of lesbian and gay activists inside Iraq’s major
cities, including Baghdad, Najaf, Karbala, Hilla and Basra,” reports
Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, who is working closely with Ali Hili and
Iraqi LGBT.

“These heroic activists are helping gay people on the run from
fundamentalist death squads; hiding them in safe houses in Baghdad,
and helping them escape to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon,” said Mr

Ali Hili is making an appeal for donations to fund the work of Iraqi

“Iraqi LGBT needs donations to help gay people in Iraq who are fleeing
the death squads. We need money for safe houses, food, electricity,
security protection and clothing - and to help pay the phone bills of
members of the Iraqi LGBT group. They are sending us information about
the homophobic killings, at great risk to their own lives.

“Many of the people we are helping had nothing but the clothes on
their backs, when they fled the attacks by fundamentalist militias.

“We are also paying for medication for members who are HIV positive.
Otherwise, they will not get treatment. If it is discovered that they
have HIV, they will surely be killed,” said Mr Hili.

The UK-based gay rights group OutRage! is working with Iraqi LGBT to
support its work. Iraqi LGBT is coordinated by Ali Hili from the
safety of London UK. The group does not yet have a bank account.
Operating an Iraqi LGBT bank account in Baghdad would be suicide. For
this reason, it has to operate its finances from London. All the
group’s members in London are Iraqi refugees seeking asylum. Their
lack of proper legal status makes it difficult for them to open a bank
account in the UK. This is why Iraqi LGBT is asking that cheques be
made payable to:

“OutRage!”, with a cover note marked “For Iraqi LGBT”, and sent to
OutRage!, PO Box 17816, London SW14 8WT, England, UK. OutRage! then
forwards the donations received to Ali Hili and Iraqi LGBT for wire
transfer to Baghdad.

More information:

Ali Hili 079 819 594 53

Blog: http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/

Photos of some of the LGBT victims are available here:


NB: Sorry, we do not have high resolution versions.

For photos of other victims, see:


Peter Tatchell, OutRage! 020 7403 1790