Following the June Iraqi police raid on an LGBT-run safe house in the city of Kerbala, Interior Ministry forces have raided a male beauty parlor in Baghdad seizing five gay men.
The new raid happened 25 June on a house used as a business for services such as waxing and massage in the Baghdad district of Karada.
Such services have long been used in a country with a body building tradition.
Iraqi media coverage, which included three days of TV reports, however described the house as used for prostitution.
Witnesses have told Iraqi LGBT that this was not the case.
Neither waxing nor massage is illegal in Iraq however it is “forbidden” by Shia clerics.
Despite claims to the contrary, homosexuality is illegal and it is on this basis that the raid happened and the men were arrested.
The house was managed by Sabah and the workers arrested are Ehsan, Samer, Alaha and Mustafa.
Eyewitnesses who were outside the building say Ministry of Interior forces raided at 3 p.m. Those on rooftops heard screams for help and saw the men being severely beaten by uniformed men carrying cattle prods. They say one was taken into custody on a stretcher.
One of the eyewitnesses who spoke with Amnesty International has since disappeared.
Iraqi LGBT has received no information about where the men were taken. However previous seizures of gays, lesbians and transgender people have resulted in them being handed to religious militia and their subsequent torture and discovery of their mutilated bodies.
An Iraqi online news site quoted “security sources” in a local newspaper saying: “After gathering evidence and information the police issued a order from a judge to raid the house where the house owner of the shop and a number of gay, mostly college students were caught red-handed, and have confessed openly their shameful work which is contrary to public decency, they were seduced by the devil to commit these acts.”
The newspaper said forces had “captured a laptop computer and CDs from a pornographic network.”
Iraqi LGBT calls for the British and American government’s to follow the lead of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, with whom it is working, and investigate and condemn the raids.
Iraqi LGBT has noted that in her latest speech outlining the American government’s support for oppressed LGBT throughout the world Hillary Clinton failed to mention Iraq.
Iraqi LGBT is meeting the British Foreign Office today and will press for an investigation and public condemnation by Minister William Hague of this latest attack on their friends by the Iraqi government.
The Foreign Office’s latest Human Rights Report accepts Iraqi government claims that “homosexuality is not a criminal offence in Iraq.”
Ali Hili, Iraqi LGBT leader said: “It is past time for the British and Americans to publicly condemn what they know are the actions of the Iraqi government.”
“Hundreds of lesbians and gays have been killed to near silence by the world. What needs to happen – what can we do – before the world pays any attention? Before people start pressing their leaders to tell the Iraqi government to stop? What? We plead for an answer.”
“We know why politicians would rather people forgot about what is happening in Iraq. But Iraqi lesbians, gay men and transgender people particularly feel that they have been forgotten by their fellow LGBT, especially those in power in the West. Why?”