Formally Condemn ISIS’s Persecution of LGBT People

Target: John Kerry, Secretary of State

Goal: Formally condemn Daesh’s persecution of the LGBT community.

The barbarities of Daesh, also known as ISIS, are myriad: beheading the protectors of world heritage sites, executing Iraqi Christians for their faith, and selling countless women and children into sexual slavery. While the United States responded to those outrages, saying “Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions – in what it says, what it believes, and what it does,” it has remained silent on the subject of LGBT persecution.

In 2014, humanitarian organization International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) concluded that “anyone believed to be LGBT under the Islamic State control is likely at imminent risk of death.” That conclusion was based on horrific crimes against gender and sexual minorities, including reports in The Washington Blade that a transgender woman was hanged by her breasts in Syria, and Daesh’s own recent announcement that it had executed a teenager for allegations of homosexuality.

The State Department has condemned Daesh’s anti-LGBT violence through its spokespeople, but those statements lack the force of a formal declaration of genocide. Perhaps, as Kevin Schumacher conceded in The Washington Blade, “it is a little tricky to argue if their atrocities against these individuals is part of a broader ‘genocide’ targeted (at) LGBTI people,” but the Islamic State’s atrocities are undeniably part of a deliberate campaign against gender and sexual minorities. According to reports, the Islamic State’s interpretation of Islamic law features condemnations of gender variance and the unequivocal declaration that “Every person for whom sodomy is proven, whether actively or passively, shall be executed for an offense against God.”

It is time to recognize Daesh’s concerted persecution of gender and sexual minorities. Tell the State Department to formally condemn the Islamic State for its atrocities against LGBT individuals and communities.


Secretary of State John Kerry,

Your recent remarks on ISIS’s genocide were a sobering introduction to the horrors faced by religious and ethnic minorities living under the group’s oppressive rule. It is time that the world recognize that “Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions” and that it is “responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.” It is also time that the U.S. extend its formal censure of Daesh to include its deliberate persecution of gender and sexual minorities subject to its rule.

Since 2014, activist organizations like IGLHRC have reported that “anyone believed to be LGBT under the Islamic State control is likely at imminent risk of death.” They have thrown children from roofs for their sexuality and hanged women by their breasts for their gender identity. On its own website, Daesh condemns gender nonconformity and calls for the deaths of all those who do not abide by their narrow definition of sexual morality. It seems that Daesh’s persecution of the LGBT community, as much as its violence against religious and ethnic minorities, is consciously avowed in both ideology and action.

Daesh’s conscious campaign of violence against gender and sexual minorities is no more acceptable than its genocidal destruction of religious and ethnic minorities. Condemn LGBT persecution with equal force.


[Your Name Here]

Photo: Released by Daesh

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