More victims, two men and a boy, accused of being gay, are reported to have been executed in Syria this week.
Originally captured at age 14, the boy was arrested and held since earlier in the year, before being executed by the Islamic State (ISIS).
All three individuals were killed in Hreitan, a town in the north of Syria. Meanwhile, seven more men, also who were condemned because they were identified as gay, were shot by ISIS in the town of Rastans.
As in the past, the executions were all open public spectacles where the crowd was first told of the crimes of homosexuality that were committed by the men and boy before they were killed. Unlike other instances, all footage of the deaths was destroyed instead of published online. There is no confirmation if the crowd, sometimes composed of children, participated in the killings.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), who has reported on killings during the Syrian Civil War since 2006, says that ISIS has executed at least 3,000 individuals. Prior to these deaths, ISIS has claimed responsibility for murdering at least 30 individuals accused of homosexuality. With these new reports, we now know that a minimum of 40 people have been executed in Syria and Iraq because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.
In August, the United Nations met to discuss the crisis LGBTQ people are facing in Syria and their desperate need to escape the tyranny and violence. Subhi Nahas, a gay Syrian man who had fled his native country, addressed the UN at that time to urge “immediate global intervention” in order to protect LGBTQ people who were still living in areas controlled by ISIS.
As more refugees flee Syria, it is important for the world to accept and aid those who need protection from the constant violence and threats. If we do not accept refugees, and we do not act to prevent greater harm in Iraq and Syria, then there will only be more deaths of those in the LGBTQ community and other civilians.