Brian Whitaker has an excellent and detailed piece looking at the upsurge in persecution of gay men in the last few years in Iraq:
The problem in post-Saddam Iraq, though, is that the official legal position counts for less than realities on the ground. The wave of “gay” killings was made possible by the breakdown of state control and the rise of local militias, some of them seeking to enforce their own interpretations of Islamic law. That resulted in people being killed for the most trivial of “sins” – among them barbers who gave customers “un-Islamic” haircuts.9 It reached a peak of absurdity when al-Qa‘eda elements in Iraq sought to impose “gender” segregation of vegetables. Claiming that tomatoes are feminine and cucumbers masculine, they argued that greengrocers should not place them next to each other, and that women should not buy or handle cucumbers.
One of the biggest problems is that the plight of homosexuals is very low down the list of priorities for all groups. Current Western policy centres on ensuring that the Iraqi government remains relatively stable, whilst trying to minimise Iranian and Al Qaeda’s influence on the country. Meanwhile supporters of the Sadr army and other groups murdering homosexuals aren’t likely to be the most sympathetic towards the plight of these gay men.
Brian Whitaker quotes Human Rights Watch’s description of the methods of torture and execution:
Murders are committed with impunity, admonitory in intent, with corpses dumped in garbage or hung as warnings on the street. The killers invade the privacy of homes, abducting sons or brothers, leaving their mutilated bodies in the neighbourhood the next day.
“They interrogate and brutalise men to extract names of other people suspected of homosexual conduct. They specialise in grotesque and appalling tortures: several doctors told Human Rights Watch about men executed by injecting glue up their anuses. Their bodies have appeared by the dozens in hospitals and morgues.
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Filed in: 'Honour'-based violence,Middle East