The Sunni militant group on Tuesday posted to its website several pictures that document what the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission translated as “the punishment of a man who had committed the acts of the people of Lot,” in reference to the prophet that God sent to Sodom as outlined in the Quran and the Bible.
One of the photographs shows a blindfolded man with his hands tied behind his back free falling from a building in the Syrian city of Raqqah. A second image shows the man’s body lying face-first in a street as an Islamic State militant is about to throw a stone at it.
Four of the photographs show crowds of people who apparently gathered near the building to witness the execution.
Islamic State treatment of LGBT people ‘brutal’
This week’s report is the latest in a series of reported executions of men the Islamic State has accused of engaging in sodomy that have emerged from Syria and Iraq in recent months.
The Sunni militant organization on Feb. 27 released seven photographs it says show the “punishment of a man” who “committed the acts of the people of Lot.”
One image shows the blindfolded man — whose hands and ankles were tied — falling from a damaged building in the Syrian city of Tal Abyad. A second photograph shows his body among rubble, while other pictures show crowds of people who gathered to watch the execution.
Islamic State militants on Feb. 1 released a series of images that show a blindfolded middle-age man who they accused of committing sodomy.
One of the photographs shows the man sitting in a plastic chair before the militants threw him from a building in Raqqah. Reports indicate those who gathered to witness the man’s execution stoned him to death after he survived the fall.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Islamic State militants in January threw a man whom they accused of engaging in “an indecent act with a man” from the roof of a hospital in the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo. The group said the man survived the fall, but militants shot him to death.
IGLHRC reported Islamic State militants in the Iraqi city of Ninevah in January released pictures they said showed the execution of two men who allegedly engaged in sodomy. The reports indicate they too were thrown off a building.
Cosette of Proud Lebanon, an organization that provides support and other services to LGBT Syrians who have fled their homeland, on Friday told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview from Beirut, the Lebanese capital, that she has heard reports of Islamic State militants burning people alive whom they suspect are gay.
An Iraqi LGBT rights advocate who asked the Blade not to use their name because of safety concerns said members of the Sunni militant group target effeminate men.
“They are really, really brutal in all the actions they are committing towards the LGBT community in Syria,” said Cosette, who declined to give the Blade her last name.
Cosette said three transgender Syrians with whom Proud Lebanon works fled their homes when Islamic State militants entered their cities.
“They had to put a veil on and just run away before they discovered they used to be men,” she told the Blade.
Cosette added the Islamic State views trans people as “perverts” who “should be dead.”
“It’s not like they treat them otherwise,” she told the Blade. “It’s just they treat them in the same cruel way as any gay man.”
Ahmed Danny Ramadan, a gay journalist who has contributed to publications in the U.S. and other countries, in 2012 fled from his home in the Syrian capital of Damascus to Beirut. He and his boyfriend moved to Vancouver last September after the Canadian government granted them asylum.
“Gay men in the areas controlled by ISIS are voiceless,” Ramadan told the Blade on Friday during a telephone interview from Vancouver. “They don’t have anybody to protect them on the ground. Their family doesn’t protect them. The community doesn’t protect them. The authorities don’t protect them. And ISIS won’t protect them.”
“If a man is accused of being a homosexual in that community, this is the end of it,” he added. “If they don’t flee the areas controlled by ISIS and they are found out, it’s a death sentence.”
A report that IGLHRC and MADRE, a global women’s advocacy organization, released last fall concludes LGBT Iraqis living under the control of the Islamic State are likely “at imminent risk of death.”
IGLHRC earlier this week also launched a campaign that urges the U.S., Canada, France, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees to accept more refugees who are fleeing the Islamic State.
Executions part of Islamic State propaganda
The Iraqi LGBT rights advocate with whom the Blade spoke on Friday described Islamic State militants as “barbarians” who incorrectly interpret Sharia law.
The activist said LGBT Iraqis are equally as afraid of the government-backed Shiite militias that are fighting against the Islamic State.
“Each Iraqi LGBTQ person feels terrified from both sides,” said the advocate who spoke to the Blade from Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.
Baghdad remains under the control of the Iraqi government, but Islamic State militants have taken Fallujah and other nearby cities.
“I am already afraid for being an LGBTQ person in Baghdad, even before ISIS takes control of the city,” said the Iraqi LGBT advocate with whom the Blade spoke. “There is a methodic mode against the LGBTQ people everywhere across Iraq.”
IGLHRC Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Hossein Alizadeh noted to the Blade the Islamic State publicizes the executions of those accused of sodomy as a way to “send a message” to the people who live under its control.
“It’s a very horrible death to basically instill fear in the population,” he said.
Alizadeh added these executions become part of the propaganda the Islamic State uses to recruit potential supporters from other parts of the region and beyond.
“They are trying to show they want a society free of ‘corruption,’” he said. “In order to do that they are trying to purge all unwanted elements, including homosexual people who commit sodomy.”
Ramadan expressed a similar sentiment.
“ISIS is like an octopus,” he told the Blade. “It has so many hands and it’s trying to reach out to whichever goal that they want to accomplish. So if homosexuality is trending at the moment, ISIS will hashtag it.”