Baghdad Human Rights Watch will urge in a report to be released today that the Iraqi government should do more to protect gay men, saying militiamen have killed and tortured scores in recent months as part of a social cleansing campaign.
Although the scope of the problem remains unclear, hundreds of gay men may have been killed this year in predominantly Shiite Muslim areas, the report’s authors said, basing their conclusion on interviews with gay Iraqi men, hospital officials and an unnamed United Nations official in Baghdad.
“The government has done absolutely nothing to respond,” said Scott Long, director of the gay rights program at Human Rights Watch. “So far there has been pretty much a stone wall.”
Homosexuality was tacitly accepted during the last years of Saddam Hussein’s rule, but Iraqis have long viewed it as taboo and shameful.
Iraq’s human rights minister, Wijdan Salim, has expressed concern about the reported slayings, but few other government officials have addressed the issue publicly or indicated that they are disturbed by the reports.