The Rudd Government has sought answers to claims that 25 men and boys were killed in anti-gay attacks in Baghdad in the last month.
“Concerned by media reports that homosexual men have been the target of violence and extra-judicial killings in Iraq, officials in Canberra have raised these concerns with the Iraqi Ambassador to Australia [Ghanim Al Shibli],” a spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said.
“Australia is a principled advocate of human rights for all and supported the statement on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation at the 63rd United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 2008.”
Australia’s Ambassador to Iraq, Bob Tyson, also raised human rights protections for minority groups, including gay Iraqis, during discussions with the Iraqi government in February.
However, the talks appeared to have had no effect as a month later Amnesty International warned that dozens of “executions” for homosexuality were imminent as Shi’a religious leaders urged followers to eradicate homosexuality from Iraqi society.
“Three corpses of gay men are reported to have been found in al-Sadr City on 2 and 3 April 2009; two of the bodies are said to have had pieces of paper bearing the word ‘pervert’ attached to them suggesting the victims had been murdered on account of their sexual identity,” the human rights group said in a statement.
The killings appear to have been conducted outside the judicial process or criminal code, which does not explicitly forbid homosexuality.
Amnesty International also wrote to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki calling for enforcement of the law against those responsible.