LGBT people in Iraq have long been persecuted. But the rising tide of turmoil today puts many at imminent risk of death. The Islamic State prescribes death for the “practice” of homosexuality. Furthermore, evidence gathered for two briefings by OutRight Action International and its partners, MADRE and the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq, demonstrate the direct effect of the collapse of the rule of law on LGBT persons, through unfettered violence by sectarian militias.
While the conflict in Iraq has placed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis at risk of serious human rights violations, LGBT Iraqis face unique threats to their safety. In addition, escape to previously safer areas, such as Iraqi Kurdistan, has been curtailed by the conflict. Unlike other groups, such as women or ethnic and religious minorities, LGBT people have little communal safety or protection from family, tribal or community members. Once exposed, family and community members, along with the authorities, are often complicit in abuses against LGBT individuals.
When Coming Out is a Death Sentence puts the violence against LGBT Iraqis in context—as human rights abuses that must be confronted by the international community. A set of recommendations targets foreign embassies, aid groups and others with the goal of raising attention and trying to improve the situation for the community.