Iraq: 'Being gay isn't as sexy as ISIS': one young man's fight for rights

"Being gay isn't as sexy as ISIS. So no-one pays us any attention."--These are the words of Amir Ashour, a 25-year-old Iraqi and founder of IraQueer.

Amir left behind his home and family a year ago and is currently living in Sweden. There, he hopes to register and expand his charity, as it is illegal to do so in Iraq. He has received multiple threats from both officials and his friends because of who he is and the work he does.

One of the main threats to the queer community in Iraq, Amir explains, is the armed militias in Baghdad and other cities: “The main one that has been practising all the killing campaigns in Iraq actually announced a partnership with our government a few months ago, under the name of ‘fighting ISIS’. The last campaign we documented was in January this year, while in July 2014, [the militia] killed 35 gay people and sex workers in one day. Not even one report was made about that."

And, Amir adds, that’s just the numbers they’re aware of. “How many more people have just disappeared? Especially with what’s happening with ISIS and people being displaced.. We can’t keep track. And the government is making it impossible for civil society organisations to run safe houses. If an organisation wants to do that, then they are charged with running brothels and prostitution.”

“Even if homosexuality is against religion and Islam is the main force of law in Iraq, killing is illegal. That is not something people can debate and argue.”  Read more via Huffington Post