Death Squads Ramp Up Killings of Gay Iraqis

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 17, 2009 4:05 PM CDT
Iraqi women arriving at a cemetery to visit their relative's grave.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Hundreds of gay men have been executed in Iraq in the last few months, CNN reports. Though homosexuals are stigmatized in Iraq, and honor killings by family members have been reported, some of the recent murders have been carried out by government security forces, Human Rights Watch says. “The peak was six months ago,” a gay man says. “It has become wide-scale war against gays in Iraq.”

HRW arrived at its number of dead through interviews with gay Iraqis and doctors who have handled the bodies. The group has “testimony that indicates that the nation's security forces are taking part in the attacks,” an HRW official says. “Iraq's leaders are supposed to defend all Iraqis, not abandon them to armed agents of hate.” Iraqi officials say they do not condone or participate in the killings, but they cannot provide special protection.