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Gay men recount the horrors of life under ISIS

By Will Stroude

In a landmark step and world first, gay refugees from territory controlled by the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) have recounted the horror of living under the extremist group’s regime to the United Nation Security Council.

Subhi Nahas, who fled from Syria to Lebanon before moving to Turkey, appeared before the Council at a closed-door, informal meeting to describe how men suspected of being gay were tortured and executed in his home town of Idlib after the al Qaeda-linked group Nusra Front captured it, Reuters reports.

Gay Syrian refugee Subhi Nahas (L) speaks as Jessica Stern, Executive Director of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (R) looks on, at a news conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York, August 24, 2015.  REUTERS/Mike Segar

That came shortly before the rise of Islamic State itself, which brought with it the horrifying videos and images of men accused of homosexuality being thrown from buildings and stoned to death.

“This was to be my fate, too,” Nahas told the Council yesterday (August 24) at the the meeting, which was arranged by the United States and Chile to draw attention to the “brutal attacks” on civilians by militants in the area.

“I was terrified to go out. Nor was my home safe, as my father, who suspiciously monitored my every move, had learned I was gay. I bear a scar on my chin as a token of his rage,” said Naha, who has now moved to the US and works to help government’s protect and support LGBT through the Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration.

“Death threats followed me to Turkey”, he explained. “A former school friend from Idlib named Khalil had joined [Islamic State]. He relayed through a mutual friend that he wanted to kill me, aiming to go to paradise.

“I was terrified.”

UN 2

Another man – an Iraqi identified only as ‘Adnan’ – recounted his story to the Security Council by telephone from an undisclosed location due to concerns for his safety. He told members that militants hunt down gay people through the mobile phone and Facebook contacts of other gay people they capture.

“In my society, being gay means death and when [Islamic State] kills gays most people are happy because they think we are evil, and [Islamic State] gets a good credit for that,” he is reported to have said.

“My own family turned against me when [Islamic State] was after me,” said Adnan, who was forced to flee his home.

“If [Islamic State] didn’t get me, members of my family would have done it.”

Adnan said Islamic State militants hunt down gay people through cell phone and Facebook contacts of people they capture.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said this was the first time the UN Security Council had ever discussed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

“It is impossible not to take up the struggle for their rights as our own as we have other great human rights struggles,” she told the meeting. “Today, we take a small but important step in assuming that work.

“It must not be our last step.”

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