Human Rights Watch documents ‘campaign of systematic killings’ against Iraqi gays.

In a new report released today, Human Rights Watch documents a “spreading campaign of torture and murder” against gay men. HRW says “hundreds of gay men” have been targeted and killed since 2004,” and nearly 90 gay men have been killed in Iraq since the beginning of January. “A campaign of systematic killings gathered gradually in strength through the early months of 2009,” the report states. “Murders are committed with impunity, admonitory in intent, with corpses dumped in garbage or hung as warnings on the street.” The report continues:

Iraqi police and security forces have done little to investigate or halt the killings. Authorities have announced no arrests or prosecutions; it is unlikely that any have occurred. … Most disturbingly, Human Rights Watch heard accounts of police complicity in abuse — ranging from harassing “effeminate” men at checkpoints, to possible abduction and extrajudicial killing.

The campaign has been largely blamed on Shiite extremists affiliated with Moqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army militia who are targeting behavior deemed un-Islamic.