Syrian men whom the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) have accused of homosexuality face violent deaths and, even for those who escape, a lifetime of stigmatization among Muslim populations who do not support the terrorist group.
The Islamic State has made its policy against LGBT people within its conquered terrain clear: if ISIS finds someone guilty of “sodomy,” the “courts” sentence him to being thrown off tall rooftops to their deaths. The Associated Press reports:
Before a crowd of men on a street in the Syrian city of Palmyra, the masked Islamic State group judge read out the sentence against the two men convicted of homosexuality: They would be thrown to their deaths from the roof of the nearby Wael Hotel.
He asked one of the men if he was satisfied with the sentence. Death, the judge told him, would help cleanse him of his sin.
“I’d prefer it if you shoot me in the head,” 32-year-old Hawas Mallah replied helplessly. The second man, 21-year-old Mohammed Salameh, pleaded for a chance to repent, promising never to have sex with a man again, according to a witness among the onlookers that sunny July morning who gave The Associated Press a rare first-hand account.
“Take them and throw them off,” the judge ordered. Other masked extremists tied the men’s hands behind their backs and blindfolded them. They led them to the roof of the four-story hotel, according to the witness, who spoke in the Turkish city of Reyhanli on condition he be identified only by his first name, Omar, for fear of reprisals.
OutRight Action International, a pro-LGBT rights NGO, reports the ISIS courts have killed 36 people so far in Syria for sodomy.
Those who have managed to escape say they feel abandoned by their society, as well as threatened by ISIS invaders, since “many Muslims consider homosexuality to be sinful.” They fear loved ones might betray them to the jihadists to save their own lives. ISIS terrorists also torture suspected homosexuals to reveal partners or friends.
A man only known as Daniel Halaby escaped Syria two years ago but told the AP he still experiences nightmares. ISIS radicalized his childhood friend, who eventually accused him of homosexuality before the terrorists. Halaby fled when he learned his name was on a wanted list.
Halaby also never ruled out the possibility of his parents handing him over to ISIS:
When his father learned he was gay, Nahas said he called him a shame to the family and beat him. Around the same time, in late 2013, Nusra fighters launched a crackdown on suspected gays in Nahas’ hometown of Maaret al-Numan, detaining 25 men and announcing through mosque loudspeakers that they would cleanse the town of homosexuals.
“With the problems between me and my father, I did not rule out that he might (hand me over),” he told the AP.
So he fled, first to Lebanon, then Turkey. But in Turkey, he said, he began getting death threats from a former school friend who joined the Islamic State group. Fearful that he wouldn’t be safe even in Turkey, he legally resettled to the United States in June.
ISIS has littered social media and the dark Internet with photos and videos of their executions. The execution of a “gay” man surfaced in December 2014, showing terrorists stoning the man’s body after he hit the ground.
“The Islamic court in Wilayet al-Furat decided that a man who has practised sodomy must be thrown off the highest point in the city, and then stoned to death,” the terrorist group said in a statement on a jihadist website.
The Wilayet al-Furat area is along the Syrian-Iraqi border, where the Islamic State has claimed part of its Caliphate. The jihadists posted pictures of the execution [warning: graphic] and of the men reading the verdict from a piece of paper.
Reports in May alleged that ISIS establishes special Sharia enforcement units to pose as gay men to find gay men to execute. They send out invitations for blind dates. The terrorists then arrest and execute those who answer.
“They set up dates to coax them into being arrested and executed,” explained an anti-ISIS fighter. “Homosexuality is viewed as the most disgusting practice by the regime. Jihadists have been seeking to entrap gay guys in sting operations. Sometimes the men are lucky if they have money and can pay a ransom but often they are taken straight to their deaths.”
In June, ISIS “celebrated” the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on gay marriage by throwing four alleged gay men off rooftops.