The so-called Islamic State has recently executed ten people in Syria for being gay, calling new attention to the extreme danger faced by gay people in territories controlled by Islamist militants.
Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told the AFP Monday that new videos show Islamic State militants shooting seven men in Rastan, a small town in the embattled central Syrian province of Homs. And he said he recently received reports from the province of Aleppo that militants there had executed two men and a boy also accused of being gay.
A video of the Rastan execution circulated by the Observatory shows a group of blindfolded men bowed on a dirt road, while a masked militant read out a list of charges that included "sodomy" and "drug addiction."
The masked man invoked the authority of the "Supreme Judicial Court in Homs," and sentenced the accused to death. A group of nearby militants then opened fire with machine guns.
Though the city of Homs is under control of the Syrian central government, Islamic State fighters do have a foothold in rural areas nearby, where they enforce a draconian version of Sharia law that makes homosexuality punishable by death.
The Observatory also confirmed on Monday the existence of a video showing members of al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front pushing accused gay men off a water tower outside Damascus in late August. The Nusra Front has denied the men were executed for homosexuality, and insisted that they instead suffered from a "mental disorder."
The recent executions of gay men documented by the Observatory are just the latest reports of brutality against homosexuals coming out of the conflicts in both Syria and Iraq.
The Islamic State in January released a series of images showing its fighters executing gay men by throwing them from the top of a tall building in Mosul, Iraq. Videos of gay men being pushed off buildings have become a semi-regular feature of the militant group's propaganda efforts.
In August, during the first ever UN Security Council session on discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, a gay Syrian and Iraqi testified to the horrors they faced at the hands of both the rebel groups and government forces.
Syrian refugee Subhi Nahas testified that the Assad regime ordered systematic raids on gay hangouts and regularly tortured accused homosexuals.
An Iraqi man, who testified using the pseudonym Adnan, told the council that the situation was similar in Iraq.
"There were militiamen or security men who — if they found out someone was gay — would arrest him, rape him, torture him," he said. "There were lots of murders supervised by the Iraqi Army."