|The memorial plaque at Sachsenhausen to homosexual victims of the Nazis|
In the past two decades considerable progress, at least on paper, has been made in granting international protection to people persecuted because of their sexual orientation. Starting in the early 1990s, individual western countries, such as the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and several European countries began granting asylum to applicants basing their claims on persecution because of sexual orientation. In 1993 the UNHCR stated that persecuted sexual minorities could qualify for international protection under the Geneva Convention as members of a social group.
In 2004, following the UNHCR recommendation, the European Commission of the EU, in its Qualifications Directive, mandated that people suffering persecution because of sexual orientation were to be protected under the criteria of the 1951 Geneva Convention as members in a social group, and in 2006, a group of highly regarded experts on international human rights law underscored the principles on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity in great detail in the Yogakarta Principles.
In 2008 the UNHCR issued the ‘UNHCR Guidance Note on Refugee Claims Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity,’ which incorporated the Yogakarta Principles and advised signatories to the 1951 Convention to grant asylum to persecuted LGBT as persecuted members of a social group. The UNHCR Guidance Note specifically addressed and designated as invalid many of the reasons for which EU countries had rejected LGBT asylum cases, even after the issuance of the Qualifications Directive and its incorporation into local asylum law (1). Even though there are still serious problems in the handling of LGBT asylum cases in many Western countries (2), the understanding of the protection needs of sexual minorities fleeing persecution in many areas of the world, and the willingness of Western countries to grant international protection to such cases, has increased, and continues to increase substantially.
Of course, asylum and other forms of international protection are only last- ditch efforts to offer shelter to those whose lives have already been at least partially destroyed by persecution or generalized violence. Reason would demand, therefore, that a concomitant effort be made to diminish the causes of this need to offer international protection, the persecution itself of LGBT, which in many countries is still state sanctioned. In the last two decades there still has been no substantial reduction in the persecution of sexual minorities worldwide, with the major problems occurring primarily in the Middle East and in Africa. In addressing this chronic abuse of human rights, the response of the international community has been sorely wanting.
Although both the UN Secretary General and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have urged the decriminalization of sexual acts between consenting adults (3), homosexual acts are still a criminal offense in more than 70 countries and carry the death penalty in seven (4). UN resolutions are, in effect, of no practical use in this case since there is no functional mechanism for enforcement. While individual countries have prosecuted and convicted perpetrators of hate crimes against LGBT within their borders, there exist no functioning international instruments through which those responsible for large- scale human rights violations against LGBT in their countries of origin can clearly be brought to justice.
The international community had its chance to develop such instruments in 1948, with the Genocide Convention, and again in 1998, with the Rome Statute, under which perpetrators of genocide and crimes against humanity can be indicted by the International Criminal Court. Despite valid historical and intellectual reasons to do so, the drafters of both these documents refused to include mass persecution of people because of their sexual orientation among the categories of people cited as possible victims of genocide or crimes against humanity.
The Genocide Convention cites only a “national, ethnical, racial or religious group” as possible victims of genocide. The Rome Statute, in defining genocide, merely repeats those categories designated by the Convention. In discussing Crimes Against Humanity, however, it is highly ambiguous. It cites “Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3”, and then, under paragraph 3 it states: “For the purpose of this Statute, it is understood that the term "gender" refers to the two sexes, male and female, within the context of society. The term "gender" does not indicate any meaning different from the above.” While the meaning and the applicability of this rather ambiguous passage is still the subject of debate (5), it would seem that the drafters wished specifically cover the mass rapes that occurred during the preceding decade in Yugoslavia. Paragraph 3 seems to explicitly exclude homosexuals and transgender people, leaving it to society, and not the individual to determine a person’s gender.
While it may be a subject of debate whether or not the persecutions of sexual minorities in the last half century actually amount to genocide, there can be no doubt that in 1948, when the Genocide Convention was drafted, there were compelling reasons to include this category of persons in the list of possible victims. Apologists for the Convention claim that in 1948 there was little consciousness of LGBT human rights; after all, homosexual acts were still a punishable offence in the countries of many of the drafters and of the original signers of the Convention. On the other hand, the Convention itself was undoubtedly a response to the genocides of the Holocaust, and it was well known that the targets of Nazi persecutions were not only Jews and Gypsies, but also communists and homosexuals (6).
It is widely recognized that the omission of political persecution from the Genocide Convention was at the insistence, ironically, of Stalin. There is, however, no such political reason for the omission of sexual orientation from the Convention. The Nazi persecution of homosexuals was a well-known, documented fact.
There have been attempts to minimize the severity of this persecution by claiming that the survival rate among homosexuals in the Concentration and forced labor camps was appreciably higher than that for Jews and Gypsies (7). This explanation fails to take into account, however, that physically vulnerable Jews and Gypsies - children and the aged - were also taken to the camps, while almost without exception, people were identified as homosexual and thereby persecuted when they were of a sexually active age, hence in a physical condition that made survival more likely. In fact, it has been contended that the fatality rate of homosexuals in the camps, when these factors are taken into consideration, was extremely high (8).
It can, of course, be claimed that a larger percentage of homosexuals within the general population escaped Nazi persecution than did Jews. This apparent advantage on the side of homosexuals was more a result, however, of external circumstances than it was a sign of lessened intensity of the persecution. Because birth records and lists taken from the Jewish community, Jews were easily identifiable, while the ferreting out of homosexuals was more difficult. There were, nevertheless, over 100,000 homosexuals arrested in Germany during the Nazi period; while only half were actually convicted sentenced to prison, concentration camps, or forced labor, many were also subject to forced sterilization or forcibly committed to mental institutions (9).
Failure to recognize that people of non- conventional sexual orientation were targets of genocide up to just three years previous to the drafting of the Convention can be explained only by the discriminatory orientation of the drafters or of the countries they represented. Germany continued to criminalize homosexuality until the mid 1960s, and persecuted homosexuals were denied the reparations accorded to other groups persecuted by the Nazis (10). In this sense, although it may seem harsh to say, the Genocide Convention is, in itself, an act of homophobia.
In 1985, Benjamin Whitaker, the UN special reporteur charged with recommending revisions to the Convention, recognized the Nazi persecution of homosexuals as genocide and recommended that homosexuals be added to the list of possible targets of genocide in the Convention (11). His report aroused a great deal of controversy - although not on the sexual orientation issue -, was tabled, and never acted upon (12).
The exclusion of sexual minorities as possible targets of genocide in the Convention seems, therefore, to be a closed case. Their likely exclusion, however, as possible targets of crimes against humanity in the 1998 Rome Statute is even more disturbing. By the time of the drafting of the Statute, decriminalization of same sex relations between consenting adults had taken place in Europe, Australia, and North America. Even more important, the UNHCR had, in 1993, specifically designated sexual minorities as a social group to be protected by 1951 Geneva refugee convention.
Although some scholars claim that the ambiguous language of the Rome Statute does not preclude bringing cases of crimes against humanity directed at sexual minorities before the ICC, others claim that the language of the Statute specifically excludes crimes against sexual minorities from consideration (13). Even if those claiming that the Statute does indeed allow cases involving persecution of sexual minorities are correct, it is clear that the absence of language specifically designating this group as a possible target makes prosecution on these grounds much more tenuous and difficult. At very best, under this ambiguous language advocates would first have to prove that persecuted sexually minorities had access to the court on categorical grounds before the specific case could be even considered. Moreover, the negative efficacy of the language of the Rome Statute is proven by the total absence, in the decade since the Statute came into force, of any serious consideration of bringing a case involving egregious human rights abuses against sexual minorities before the court.
It seems that more specific language, which would have more directly and incontrovertibly allowed prosecution of perpetrators of crimes against humanity in reference to sexual minorities was purposefully expunged from the text of the Statute. Valerie Oosterveld, a Canadian delegate to the UN Convention establishing the ICC and thereby witness and party to the discussions producing the Rome Statute, and who defends the language of the Statute concerning allowance of cases involving persecution of sexual minorities, states clearly that more explicit language, which would have referred specifically to crimes against humanity perpetrated against sexual minorities, was blocked by the Vatican and by some Arab countries (14), some of which consider homosexual relations a capital crime.
That Arab countries criminalizing same sex relations would oppose international legislation that could bring their own political leaders, legislators, and judges to be tried at the ICC is, although regrettable, understandable. That the Vatican would try to protect those who advocate or perpetrate execution, murder, rape, torture, or other heinous crimes against any human being, whether or not the victim acts in accordance with the teaching of the Church, is more difficult to understand. On the other hand, as of the date of the drafting of the Rome Statute, the Vatican had not yet taken a categorical stand against either capital punishment (15), and the role of the Church in the Rwanda tragedy of 1994 is still to be clarified (16). As recently as December 2008 the Vatican has still opposed UN resolutions to decriminalize same sex relations (17).
Any consideration of the absence of cases brought before the ICC of crimes against humanity concerning sexual minorities must contain, of course, an examination of the situation of LGBT in countries where there is alleged persecution. It must first be determined that the well established persecutions of sexual minorities in certain countries correspond, in fact, to the definitions of crimes against humanity provided by the Statute, irrespective of the issue of who the Statute’s permissible victims are. The opposition to the specific inclusion of sexual orientation in the text of the Rome Statute indicates that at least some of the drafters thought that the treatment of sexual minorities in their countries could, in fact, be considered a crime against humanity; nevertheless, it is still worthwhile to examine the issue in greater detail.
Before considering the most egregious cases of persecution of sexual minorities in the past decade, the possibility that the criminalization of same sex relations in and of itself constitutes a crime against humanity should be examined. Even if the laws prohibiting and punishing same sex relations are enforced only sporadically and inconsistently, as is the case in many of the countries criminalizing same sex relations, they outlaw what has been accepted medically not as a matter of choice, but rather as an essential part of a person’s identity (18). The psychological damage and pain caused by having an essential and immutable part of one’s identity declared criminal is beyond dispute.
It seems that the intent of these laws and their application is to render the homosexual population invisible, to intimidate sexual minorities into complete suppression of any expression of their sexual identities. Since even in countries where homosexual activity is punishable by the death penalty, there is little active ferreting out of sexual minorities, it does not seem that their intention is a “final solution” for LGBT, as it was for the Jews, Gypsies, and, debatably, for homosexuals during the Holocaust. Nevertheless, the laws criminalizing homosexual relations can be deemed as corresponding to article 7, 1 (h) Persecution or (k) “inhumane acts … intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.” In that the Statute specifically cites damage to mental health, without necessarily involving physical injury, the Statute covers situations creating purely psychological pain and intense neurotic reaction on the part of their victims. Laws criminalizing homosexuality are, thereby, persecutory in and of themselves.
It may be argued that prosecution of the aim of criminalization, to render homosexuals invisible within the society in question, would require an extension of the definition of genocide to include cultural genocide, since it involves the annihilation of a group’s essential characteristics, and not its physical liquidation (19). However, it is reasonable to maintain that the suffering caused by the fear, humiliation, and negation of one’s value as a human being, combined with the real possibility of torture, imprisonment, and even death that these laws proscribe constitute sufficient grounds to classify sexual minorities at least under article 7, 1 (k) of the Statute.
Moreover, such laws can be deemed incitement to genocide in that they reinforce and give legal status to discriminatory and persecutory social institutions. Given that such laws generally are enacted in societies displaying intense homophobic attitudes, they cause not only psychological damage but also place sexual minorities in serious physical danger. Because of the danger of being prosecuted for their sexual orientation, most members of sexual minorities cannot seek the protection of their state against attacks from homophobic thugs, which, in such societies, are commonplace. In the worst cases, laws criminalizing same sex relations give de facto license to police and militias to attack and brutalize sexual minorities without fear of official reprisal (20).
The situation is even more difficult for lesbians, who in many societies where homosexuality is illegal, are forced into marriage. Such marriages, since the woman has neither legal nor practical means of refusal, may be construed as involving rape and sexual slavery (21).
Human Rights Watch has recently produced reports showing how criminalization of same sex relations has been responsible for extreme violence perpetrated by both civilian and official parties against sexual minorities in Iran (22). Examination of asylum claims filed and accepted in Europe, North America, and Australia by members of sexual minorities from other Middle Eastern and African countries indicates that throughout the region there is a similar relationship between criminalization of homosexuality and violence directed toward this group. Frequently, laws criminalizing same sex relations are accompanied by statements made by public figures claiming that homosexuals are somehow less than human and therefore unworthy of legal protections.
These are all issued discussed fully by UNHCR in its 2008 Guidance note cited above. The connection between criminalization of same sex relations and extreme acts of violence against sexual minorities was also underscored by the UN Secretary General’s calling for a resolution to decriminalize homosexuality in 2010.
Criminalization of homosexual relations, therefore, can be seen both as persecutory in itself and as incitement to persecution. In the Genocide Convention, incitement is considered a separate crime and thereby indictable, regardless if the genocide has taken place or not or if a clear relationship can be made between the act of genocide and the incitement. Unfortunately, since the 1948 Convention excluded sexual orientation as a possible target for genocide, crimes dealing with sexual orientation issues must he handled as crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute, if they can be handled at all. There, incitement is not a separate crime, but rather an element in the genocide or crime against humanity, which makes prosecution for incitement under the Statute impossible unless a crime against humanity has actually taken place and the act of incitement can be directly tied to it (23).
Nevertheless, prosecution under the Rome Statute of agents applying laws criminalizing homosexual relations may, in fact, be possible. The Rome statute demands that actions deemed crimes against humanity be “part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.” The Statute does not demand that the attack be physical, but rather a “course of conduct.” It would seem that legislation rendering a segment of the population criminal would be sufficient to comply with that requirement. Despite, therefore, the problems of prosecuting incitement, there still seems to be sufficient grounds to prosecute under the Statute those responsible for establishing, maintaining or carrying out laws criminalizing same sex relations as crimes against humanity, if, as said, the Statute can be interpreted to recognize crimes against sexual minorities in the first place.
While it is clear that criminalization of same sex relations, independent of the intensity with which these laws are enforced, undoubtedly creates a situation that could justifiably result in conditions addressed in article 7,1, (k) of the Statute, the degree of suffering in each society frequently depends upon situations extraneous to the laws themselves, thereby possibly complicating prosecution.
In Iran, for example, although homosexual relations carry the death penalty, very few people have actually been executed under this law, since the official position of the government is that homosexuality does not exist in Iran; it is a plague of the West. Prosecution under the law specifically criminalizing homosexuality would, therefore, be in contradiction to the social construction the government wishes to propagate. Those few who have, in fact, been executed may not even have identified as homosexual, and the law under which they have been executed is not clearly that which outlaws homosexuality (24). The function of the laws specifically criminalizing homosexuality seems to be to suppress through intimidation rather than direct annihilation.
Homosexuals have, however, been regularly sentenced to punishments amounting to torture, such as 100 lashes for an assortment of sex related crimes, such as lewd behavior. Many have been coerced into submitting to sex change operations--- Iran produces the highest number of sex change operations per annum in the world---, which the state encourages for homosexuals, in order to avoid harassment and prosecution (25). It is not clear, however, that the threatened prosecution would be for the laws specifically prohibiting homosexuality.
Hence, the laws under which homosexuals are denied their human rights, laws prohibiting lewd behavior, are laws applicable to society in general; therefore, even though egregious human rights violations are involved, prosecution under the Rome Statute is probably not possible, at least in these cases, since they are not part of a widespread or systematic attack directed at a specific segment of the population. The only possibility for prosecution would be for the laws prohibiting homosexual activity itself, although those laws produced more general, but less intense suffering than laws intended for the general population but perhaps discriminatorily applied to homosexuals.
In addition, even if we accept the possibility of bringing cases of extreme persecution of LGBT before the ICC, it is nevertheless only an ambiguous weapon in combating and helping to prevent crimes against humanity perpetrated against sexual minorities, since the Rome Statue obliges us to consider primarily the intent of the perpetrator, and not the efficacy of the persecution. The intent on the Iranian government to inflict psychological harm is, however, not clear. The intent is to render homosexuals invisible; the harm inflicted upon the sexual minorities can be claimed to be merely a subsidiary effect of this intent.
Moreover, it can be argued that in the case of Iran, the laws prohibiting homosexual activity are ineffective in producing an appreciable degree of repression. In the larger cities, despite these laws and the frequent application of the other laws cited, homosexuals frequent sexually oriented Internet sites and clubs (26). The relevance of such phenomena can, however, be challenged; even during the Holocaust, many Jews continued to attend private synagogues. The response of the persecuted community does not necessarily indicate the severity of the persecution.
Most likely, the relative openness of sexual minorities in Iran depends upon the ease of flight from Iran; it is relatively easy for Iranian citizens to obtain non- immigrant visas to countries where they can request asylum, and if that fails, sexual minorities can legally flee, without a visa, to Turkey, where they can contact the UNHCR. Hence, an Iranian homosexual knows that if the situation at home becomes too dangerous, flight from Iran is quite possible.
The degree of suffering inflicted upon sexual minorities in a society depends not only upon specific and directed actions taken against it, but also on the intensity of homophobia and the existence of other social institutions in that society. While homophobia in Iranian society is very intense, the institution of honor killings, for example, is not as firmly established there as it is in many Arab countries. In general, an honor killing is still considered murder in Iran and is prosecuted as such, although the perpetrator may receive a reduced sentence (27). Iranian parents and brothers beat, humiliate, and disown sexual minority children, but they generally do not kill them. Hence, while the criminalization of homosexual relations my cause a great deal of misery, it only very seldom causes death.
In Yemen, on the other hand, where homosexual relations are also punishable by death but where honor killings are frequent and generally go unpunished, sexual minorities live in constant fear both of the government and of their families. Frequently, families turn homosexual children over to their tribes, who imprison, rape, torture and execute them. Since same sex relations are punishable by death in Yemen, sexual minorities persecuted by their families or tribes have no access to governmental protection (28).
In addition, flight from Yemen to seek protection in another country is exceedingly difficult. Most sexual minorities do not have the financial, family, or professional qualifications to obtain a visa to a country where they could claim asylum. Illegal flight to neighboring Saudi Arabia is useless, since the same conditions obtain there for sexual minorities as obtain in Yemen. The closest possible UNHCR access point is Syria, where homosexuality is illegal and a homosexual would have to wait for years in a hostile homophobic environment in order possibly to be selected for resettlement out of region. Moreover, the UNHCR does not guarantee him resettlement even though his asylum claim is recognized. The international protection system for him is, for all intents and purposes, dysfunctional. The combination of governmental and societal persecution, and the lack of viable international alternatives, has rendered sexual minorities totally invisible, and extraordinarily vulnerable in Yemen.
Ironically, although the danger and suffering for sexual minorities is much greater in Yemen than it is in Iran, the possibilities of bringing a case against governmental authorities of each country under the Rome Statute would be the same. In fact, the case against Iran would probably be stronger, since specific governmental figures could be identified both for authorizing and for executing the persecution. In Yemen, on the other hand, only those responsible for sustaining and enforcing the criminalization laws could be indicted. The major agents of the persecution, the families, tribes, and Yemeni society in general would practically be outside the jurisdiction of the court.
The most evident case of the impotence of international human rights legislation in punishing and preventing crimes against humanity inflicted upon sexual minorities is Iraq, where, ironically, there is no specific legislation criminalizing homosexual relations. Both the US State Department human rights reports and the UK Country of origin information sheet on Iraq agree that homosexuals are regularly executed by religiously motivated death squads with ties to the police and to the government, and honor killings of homosexual family members are commonplace. Both reports cite the unwillingness of the police to afford any protection to sexual minorities (29). Escapees from Iraq who have claimed that they were threatened, detained, and tortured under such circumstances have been granted asylum in the West. Iraq is most likely the most dangerous place on earth to be homosexual.
However, in the absence of any specific criminalization of homosexual relations, any stated police policy to refuse to prosecute honor killings, and the anonymity and constantly changing perpetrators involved in the death squads, the existence of a “widespread or systemic attack” required by the Statute for crimes against humanity would be very difficult to show. The case would be easier under the Genocide Convention, where the rants of homophobic mullahs could be prosecuted as incitement, without having to show that they were directly connected to the specific murders of homosexual victims, but as we have said, sexual orientation is not protected under the 1948 Convention. Hence, existing international instruments are for all intents and purposes useless in preventing or even mitigating our most severe case of persecution of sexual minorities, a case that, because of the number of deaths involved and of the clear purpose of the murders, comes closest to our popular conception of genocide.
1. For an analysis of the UNHCR Guidance Note see la Violette, Nicole, “UNHCR Guidance Note on Refugee Claims Relating to Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’: a Critical Commentary” International Journal of Refugee Law, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 173-208, 2010
2. For a discussion of these problems, see European Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), Homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, Comparative legal analysis, 2010 Update, pp. 55- 61, Vienna, 2010; Bilefsky, Dan, “Gays seeking asylum in U.S. encounter a new hurdle,” New York Times, 28 Jan. 2011.
3. Ki- Moon, Ban, “Remarks at event on ending violence and criminal sanctions based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” UN News Centre, 10 Dec. 2010, New York
5. For a full discussion of the various interpretations of this paragraph, see Oosterveld, Valerie, “The Definition of “Gender” in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: A Step Forward or Back for International Criminal Justice?” Harvard Human Rights Journal, Vol. 18, Spring 2005, pp. 56- 84
6. Heger, Heinz. The Men with the Pink Triangle (Boston, 1980)
7. Lively, Scott et al, The pink Swastika, Keizer, Oregon, 1995
8. Lautman, Ruediger, "Gay Prisoners in Concentration Camps as Compared with Jehovah's Witnesses and Political Prisoners," in Michael Berenbaum, ed., A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis, London, 1990, p. 201
9. A full overview of the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, with ample documentation, can be found in Mueller, Christine, The other side of the pink triangle: Still a Pink Triangle, Reed, Oregon, 1994 www.pink-triangle.org
10. Heger, op.cit. p. 13; United States Holocaust Museum, Homosexuals, (n.d.) Washington, D.C.
11. Whitaker, Benjamin, Revised and updated report on the question of the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide p. 16, section II B (B) 2, United Nations Economic and Social Council Commission on Human Rights Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities
Thirty-eighth session, Item 4 of the provisional agenda, E/CN.4/Sub.2/1985/6 — 2 July 1985.
12. Schabas, William, Genocide in international law: the crimes of crimes, Cambridge, 2000, pp. 466- 467.
13. For a comprehensive discussion of the possible interpretation of the Statute’s wording concerning sexual orientation, see Oosterveld, op. cit.
14. Oosterfeld, op.cit, pp. 55- 56.
15. See Catholics against Capital Punishment, “What the Vatican has said” http://www.cacp.org/vaticandocuments.html
16. Kimani, Martin, “For Rwandans, the pope's apology must be unbearable” Guardian, March 29 2010
17. Puella, Phillip, “Vatican attacked for opposing gay decriminalization” Reuters, Dec. 2 2008
18. See UNHCR guidance note on refugee claims relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, section II, 8. Geneva, 2008
19. A succinct but comprehensive consideration of the historical, juridical, and intellectual problems involved in the inclusion of cultural genocide in relevant instruments can be found in Nersessian, David, Rethinking Cultural Genocide Under International Law, Carnegie Council, 2005 http://www.carnegiecouncil.org/resources/publications/dialogue/2_12/section_1/5139.html. Although Nersessian does not treat the issue of cultural genocide of sexual minorities, the rendering of a homosexual population invisible clearly fits the definitions offered in his discussion.
20. UNHCR, op.cit, section II, B, i.
21. Weissbrodt, David et al. Abolishing Slavery and its Contemporary Forms, pp. 112- 118, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, 2002
22. Human Rights Watch, “We Are a Buried Generation” Discrimination and Violence against Sexual Minorities in Iran, New York 2010
23. Human Rights Watch, Fear for Life Violence against Gay Men and Men Perceived as Gay in Senegal, New York, 2010
24. See Davies, Thomas E, “How the Rome Statute Weakens the International Prohibition on Incitement to Genocide” Harvard Human Rights Journal / Vol. 22, Aug. 21 2009, pp. 246- 270.
25. Human Rights Watch, “We Are a Buried Generation” Discrimination and Violence against Sexual Minorities in Iran
28. Country of Origin Information Centre (Landinfo), Report Iran: Honour killings, p. 12, Oslo, May 2009
29. For a general discussion of the situation, see Whitaker, Brian, Unspeakable Love: gay and lesbian life in the Middle East, Berkley and Los Angeles, 2006. Cf. Novack, Jane, “Yemeni Jihaddis Murder Three Gay Men, Burn Police Stations in Jahr, Abyan” Web site Armies of liberation, Jan 17, 2009 http://armiesofliberation.com/archives/2009/01/17/yemeni-jihaddis-murder-three-gay-men-burn-police-stations-in-jahr-abyan/ The social opprobrium against homosexuality is so severe that the US State department human rights report stated that it was unable to gather sufficient data on the matter, since no one was willing to discus it. See U.S. Department of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Yemen Washington, March, 2010.
30. U.S. Department of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Iraq, Washington, 2010; UK Border Agency, Country of Origin Information Report: Iraq, December 2009, section 23. London, 2010.