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IRAQ: Threatening fliers against homosexuals posted in Baghdad

April 17, 2009 |  1:39 pm

Offering the latest evidence of an organized campaign of persecution against Iraq's gay community, threatening fliers have been posted around the impoverished Shiite enclave of Sadr City in eastern Baghdad targeting homosexuals, according to residents.

"If you don't cease your perverted acts, you will get your fair punishment," read the warnings, which were posted on walls on a variety of streets around the neighborhood.

On some were scrawled the names of two or three local men suspected of being gay, says one resident, who estimates he saw about 15 names in all. The fliers were signed by a previously unknown group calling itself the Platoons of Righteousness.

In addition, graffiti reading "we will get you, puppies" -- a derogatory Iraqi term for gays -- was sprayed on walls in red paint.

Residents said the fliers and graffiti were removed after a few hours, though it wasn't clear by whom.

Homosexuality is outlawed in many parts of the Middle East, and discrimination is widespread across the region. But in recent weeks Baghdad has witnessed an escalating campaign of violence against gays -- perhaps because they had taken advantage of the relative calm to more openly practice their lifestyles.

Police said the bodies of three slain men who were suspected of being gay were found earlier this month in Sadr City, and news reports say at least 25 homosexual men have been murdered in Baghdad over the last two months.

-- Liz Sly and Caesar Ahmed from Baghdad

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