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Kidnapers Targeting Gay Iraqis


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Kidnapers Targeting Gay Iraqis

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

April 11, 2006 - 12:01 am ET

(Baghdad) Armed gangs are regularly kidnapping and holding for ransom Iraqis - many of them gay - according to a United Nations sponsored media group.

IRIN reports that hundreds of people have been seized throughout the country and American troops seem helpless to prevent it.

A Baghdad LGBT organization tells the news service that 12 of its members have been killed by kidnappers when their ransom demands could not be met.

Another 70 have been threatened with kidnapping.

"We're trying to help these people, but it's getting very difficult, and our organization has been targeted twice since last month," Mustafa Salim, a spokesperson for Rainbow for Life, told IRIN.

"We know for certain that those killed were targeted because of their sexual preferences."

Iraq's small LGBT community is mostly closeted. Homosexuality was a crime under the regime of Saddam Hussein and there has been no improvement since the US led invasion.

Last month prominent Shiite cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for death to gays. (story)

The partner and family of a gay Canadian peace activist who was kidnapped in Iraq kept his sexuality a closely guarded secret until after he was freed in a military raid. (story)

James Loney was kidnapped in Baghdad along with fellow Canadian Harmeet Sooden, Briton Norm Kember and American Tom Fox, whose bullet-ridden body was found last month.

Loney's sexuality was revealed only on his return to Canada when he was greeted at the airport by partner Dan Hunt.

It is estimated as many as 50 people a day are kidnapped in Iraq with ransom demands of up to $100,000 for each. If the demands are not met the victims are killed.

Doctors, artists and journalists have also been the frequent target of kidnappers, IRIN reported. A dusk to dawn curfew has done little to stop the attacks.

©365Gay.com 2006


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