This is a welcome statement especially in the face of the violence that gays have been experiencing, including from Sadr’s own followers. His statement is not particularly groundbreaking as it is the most commonly-held view among mainstream Muslim sects, one that preaches tolerance but not acceptance of homosexual acts.
BAGHDAD – Human Rights Watch (HRW) has praised Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr for publicly advocating a humanitarian stance toward the LGBT community, saying they should not be subjected to violence. Last month, Joe Stork, HRW’s deputy Middle East director, said, “His statement represents an important change in the right direction and should be followed by concrete actions to protect LGBT people from violence.”
In a rare, unexpected statement on July 7 about the LGBT community, the leader of the Sadrist movement declared, “[You] must disassociate from them and provide them advice [but] not attack them.” His comment was in response to a letter by a Sadrist supporter who complained about men “acting like women” and “suspicious relations between people of the same gender,” referring to homosexual relationships.
HRW has documented “serious abuses” by various Iraqi groups, including Sadrists, against LGBT people, who have become a social community in the country. The human rights organization said, “We hope this [new stance by Sadr] will change behavior in successors to the Mahdi Army and other ranks and spur the government to hold accountable those who commit these crimes.”