Brian Whitaker has an article in the Near East Quarterly describing the targeting of gay men in Iraq by vigilantes. It makes for sobering reading. Yet, at the same time, some of the absurdities that are resulting would be laughable, if it weren’t for the fact that their perpetrators wield guns and are only too prepared to use them:
The problem in post-Saddam Iraq, though, is that the official legal position counts for less than realities on the ground. The wave of “gay” killings was made possible by the breakdown of state control and the rise of local militias, some of them seeking to enforce their own interpretations of Islamic law. That resulted in people being killed for the most trivial of “sins” – among them barbers who gave customers “un-Islamic” haircuts. It reached a peak of absurdity when al-Qa‘eda elements in Iraq sought to impose “gender” segregation of vegetables. Claiming that tomatoes are feminine and cucumbers masculine, they argued that greengrocers should not place them next to each other, and that women should not buy or handle cucumbers.