Islamist death squads are hunting down gay Iraqis and summarily executing them, claims gay rights activist Peter Tatchell.

According to Tatchell, the coordinator of the London-based Iraqi LGBT organisation in Baghdad, named only as Bashar, aged 27, was assassinated in a barber shop. Reports say that militias burst in and sprayed his body with bullets.

“The so-called improved security situation in Iraq is not benefiting all Iraqis, especially not gay ones. Islamist death squads are engaged in a homophobic killing spree, with the active encouragement of leading Muslim clerics,” said Tatchell.

One of these clerics, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of Shia Islam, has previously issued a fatwa urging the killing of lesbians and gays in the “worst, most severe way possible.”

Last month Newsweek also reported on the violent attacks on Iraqi gays, saying that government officials scoffed at the problem and that “the United Nations human-rights office, which has a big presence in Iraq, dodged the subject like a mine field.”

Iraqi LGBT claims that more than 430 gay men have been murdered in Iraq since 2003, said the magazine.

“For gay Iraqis there is little evidence of the transition to democracy. They don’t experience any new-found respect for human rights. Life for them is even worse than under the tyrant Saddam Hussein. It is a death sentence in today’s “liberated” Iraq to love a person of the same-sex…” said Tatchell.

Iraqi LGBT is appealing for funds to help the work of their members in Iraq. For more information, visit

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