Gays on 'hit list'

2009-04-17 14:06

Baghdad - A shadowy group has posted signs around the Iraqi capital's main Shi'ite working-class district of Sadr City naming alleged homosexuals on a list and threatening to kill them.

"We will punish you, perverts," the posters say. They are signed by the "Brigades of the Righteous", a previously unknown outfit with the same name as an armed group responsible for kidnapping five Britons in 2007.

Residents said that those named on the list have gone into hiding.

Elsewhere in the neighbourhood, someone has written: "We will get you, puppies," in red graffiti, using the Iraqi slang for homosexuals.

Police earlier this month recovered the bullet-riddled bodies of three men said to have been homosexuals in Sadr City, a bastion of followers of the anti-US Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Two of the bodies had notes attached to them with the word "Pervert", a security official said.

Residents told AFP that the bodies of two youths aged 16 and 18 were also found in an empty lot on the edges of Sadr City, and that two homosexuals had earlier been dumped in the street with their arms and legs broken.

Homosexuality is forbidden in Islam, frowned upon in Arab society and illegal in many Middle Eastern countries. Iraq has no law against homosexuality but prominent religious authorities have harshly condemned it.