Carelessness of UNITAD & UNAMI When It Comes to The Iraqi LGBT+ Community

As an NGO that supports different LGBT+ related movements in the MENA region, specifically in Iraq, I think it is really necessary to discuss the violence, discrimination, and prosecutions LGBT+ people have faced by ISIS in areas controlled by this dangerous terrorist organization. During our last meeting with UNITAD, we tried to shine a light on this, and we were promised a separate roundtable meeting which never took place; so I would like to talk about this issue as no one else has been talking about it until now. 

Based on reports by different organizations monitoring areas controlled by ISIS, members of the LGBT+ community have faced violent prosecutions, most of them have been killed using brutal methods such as being thrown down from high buildings, drowned, immolated, beheaded, stoned to death, all that and many other gross and unforgivable methods of murder and torture have been carried out against them. According to available reports, even law enforcements in areas controlled by ISIS participated in carrying out these execution.

ISIS had published a list of “crimes” that were responded to with execution as a punishment, and homosexuality was included. In some instances, ISIS leaders themselves participated in homosexual behaviors, but the punishments did not include them because they did not act as the receiver during the act. If the gay man was young and had feminine qualities, other “straight” men were allowed to have sex with them because they were counted as females. Other gay men who were masculine and had receiver roles were executed.

Homosexuality was treated as a crime and people who participated in homosexual activities were punished accordingly, but strangely, pedophilia was not treated in the same way; this is apparent in the case of a child, of a 15 year old Syrian boy who was raped by an ISIS commander. They threw the boy down off of a building and killed him, but the ISIS rapist was let go without punishment and returned to fight in Iraq instead. 

Throughout 2014-2017, horrendous crimes have been committed against members of the LGBT+ community, to which the UN, including UNITAD and UNAMI, have not responded to in any valuable way. UNITAD claims to work with victims of ISIS, but there are so far zero official statements released by either party that condemns these acts. We keep approach the UN asking to help organizations like ours, but we get hit back with “helping you damages our reputation.” LGBT+ people are human, they exist, they want their voices heard. Unless UNITAD or/and UNAMI start taking official action, I refuse to believe they are concerned with the safety of Iraqi people. 

I would also like to take this moment to shine a light on the recent crimes committed against LGBT+ people since May 17th after the EU raised the Pride Flag in Baghdad. We reported the murder of six individuals who were suspected of being gay, since May 17, an official hate campaign against the community have been announced, endorsed by Iraqi politicians and influential figures such as Muqtada Al-Sadr. Again, the self-proclaimed humanitarians at UNAMI and UNITAD stayed silent, while Rasan, as small as our organization is, led a fight using our platforms and informed people about what was happening. Tokenistic moves such as the one EU did and meetings where Rasan is silenced when it comes to LGBT+ related issues do not do anything to help the Iraqi people.

I am requesting UNITAD to address the issues LGBT+ individuals are facing and start doing actual work for the LGBT+ community. LGBT+ people were also, and are still also, victims of ISIS and the ISIS mindset.