Iraqi armed forces are raping, torturing and murdering LGBT+ people, report says

LGBT+ people in Iraq are being hunted, abducted, tortured, raped and murdered by armed groups, including police and security forces, according to a new report.

The report from Human Rights Watch, supported by Iraqi LGBT+ rights group IraQueer, included 54 interviews with LGBT+ Iraqi people, as well as with six witnesses to killings and abductions by armed groups of LGBT+ people.

According to the report, attacks on LGBT+ people were committed by police, government security forces, and state-sponsored armed groups dedicated to hunting down and attacking queer Iraqis.

Of the 54 people interviewed, the report recorded eight cases of abductions, eight cases of attempted murder, four extrajudicial killings, 27 cases of sexual violence —including gang rape — 45 cases of threats to rape and kill, and 42 cases of online targeting by individuals who identified themselves as members of armed groups against LGBT+ people in Iraq.

In eight of these cases, the abuses was against LGBT+ children as young as 15.

Human Rights Watch said: “In Iraq, a hairstyle, fashion sense, or polished nails could be tantamount to a death sentence. Since 2005, Iraqi armed forces have launched attacks against individuals marked as LGBT+ based primarily on their appearance and ‘suspicion’ of same-sex conduct.”

“While kidnappings, torture, and killings of LGBT+ people and those perceived as LGBT+ by Iraqi armed forces has been repeated, government officials have absolved themselves of responsibility and instead have claimed that these abusive armed forces were attempting to stand as protectors for morals and religious traditions.”

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