The Rudd Government says it’s concerned about ongoing reports of serious human rights abuses against gay Iraqi men and will continue to raise the issue with the country’s leaders.
The response comes as Human Rights Watch released a 67-page report last week detailing a mounting campaign of murder and torture of gay men across Iraq.
The deeply disturbing report points to a rise in reported killings of gay men since the beginning of 2009, as part of a concerted eradication plan, likely stemming from extremist militia networks.
“The Australian Government remains concerned by violence and reports of human rights violations in Iraq. This includes reports of violence against women and minority groups,” a DFAT spokeswoman told Southern Star.
The spokeswoman said senior Australian officials had brought up specific concerns about the persecution of gay men in Canberra on July 22 with visiting senior Iraqi officials including high-ranking officers from the Ministry of Human Rights and the Iraqi National Police.
Rumours surfaced earlier this year that gay men were being targeted and had been killed for their sexuality. The Human Rights Watch report is the strongest evidence yet that scores of gay men are being killed.
The report says death squads have started singling out men they consider not ‘manly’ enough or are suspected of being homosexual, with decisions often made on as little as the way a man is dressed or the length of his hair.
The report has put the killings so far “in the hundreds” and tells of one man, Hamid, who could barely speak after the murder of his partner of ten years in April this year. His partner’s body was found in the neighbourhood garbage a day after he was snatched by four masked men. His genitals were cut off and a piece of his throat was ripped out.
“I feel as if my life is pointless,” Hamid said. “I have no family now, I cannot go back to them. I have a death warrant on me.
“In Iraq, murderers and thieves are respected more than gay people… They want us exterminated.”
Several doctors also reported that suspected gay men have died after brutal torture, including having glue injected in their anus.
The report suggests in some cases Iraqi security forces are colluding with the killings and has called on the Iraqi government to pursue perpetrators, who so far appear to have immunity.
“Iraq’s leaders are supposed to defend all Iraqis, not abandon them to armed agents of hate. Turning a blind eye to torture and murder threatens the rights and life of every Iraqi,” Human Rights Watch LGBT Human Rights Program director Scott Long said.
It is thought the killing sprees have followed messages by some hardline mosques warning of “a third sex” in Iraqi society, referring to “soft” or “effeminate” men, in retaliation to overall social change in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion.

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