Iraq Militias Kill Gays With Impunity

Government's unwillingness to protect gays points to a bleak future for all Iraqis
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 10, 2009 7:12 AM CDT
Supporters of anti-US cleric Muqtada al-Sadr rally against a US-Iraqi security pact in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad, Iraq.   (AP Photo/ Karim Kadim)
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(Newser) – Iraq's militias have switched from slaughtering rivals to killing men they suspect of being homosexuals, and the Iraqi government is turning a blind eye, Rasha Moumneh writes in Foreign Policy. Gay men have been kidnapped, tortured, and murdered in rising numbers since the start of this year, but not a single arrest has been made. One UN worker estimates that the body count is well into the hundreds.

Survivors say the Mahdi Army militia is behind most of the attacks, as it tries to reinvent itself as a guardian of morality instead of a foe of the US. The government's indifference to the murders has ominous echoes of the attacks on gays that preceded a wider campaign of violence in Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe, Moumneh writes. If Iraq can't do more to protect all of its citizens, the militias will continue seeking out new victims and a wider surge of killings will follow.