Earlier this month came more shocking news from Iraq with the discovery of the bodies of 25 gay men and teens, killed by Islamic death squads -” many with pieces of paper with the Arabic word for pervert pinned to their chests.

Under the secular Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein, gays were largely left alone by authorities despite facing widespread discrimination, and there were parks where they knew they could find each other.

The killings began quickly in the lawless years following Saddam’s removal, with victims often tried in absentia by local religious tribunals without any legal authority.

Yet as order returns to the country, the sexual cleansing of Iraq has only accelerated.

Three years ago, Iraqi Shi’ite leader Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa calling for gays to be killed in the most severe ways possible. Since then the campaign has been more organised but both Sunni and Shi’ite militias are known to be involved.

The militias are the security wings of the various parties in the Iraqi governing coalition and many work day jobs in the country’s police and security forces from whom GLBT Iraqis can expect little help.

Victims are typically tricked into meeting with their killers who pose as other gay men in chatrooms and on dating websites. Torture usually precedes death -” and in a country where heterosexuals have almost no sexual outlets outside of marriage, victims are often raped as well.

Our troops are largely out of Iraq. They never should have been there in the first place. All we can do to help gay Iraqis is apply political pressure and keep accepting gay refugees.

But the troops should stay in Afghanistan, where the Taliban treated gays far worse than the current regime, and where there is every chance they’ll come back.

The Taliban first executed gay Afghans by bulldozing walls on top of them, but as too many horrendously crippled prisoners were surviving (and under Islamic law then had to be set free), they moved on to burying them up to their necks and then crushing their heads with tanks.

If Coalition forces go home too early, this is the mindset that will come back to rule Afghanistan. Should the same forces take over Pakistan, they’ll have a nuclear arsenal at their disposal -” risking an atomic hot war with Israel or India.

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