Man Killed For Being Gay in Yemen: Al-Qaeda Suspected
A security official in Yemen told sources at AFP that a Yemeni man was shot and killed Thursday by Al-Qaeda gunmen. The official said that the man was targeted because the assassins believed that he was gay.
As reported on AsiaOne.com, the incident was recounted by a Yemeni security official who said "Armed Al-Qaeda suspects on a motorbike opened fire on 29-year-old Salem Ahmed Hasan in a market in Huta," capital of the southern province of Lahj, the official said, adding the man died immediately. He also added that he believed the victim was targeted because the gunmen thought he was gay.
Thursday's attack is the latest in a series of planned killings of gay men in Yemen suspected to be the work of religious militant groups like Al Qaeda.
In July, CNN reported that two gunmen on a motorbike killed a man in Lahj province suspected of being gay. Witnesses, who knew the victim, told CNN that the militants had warned him at least twice previously that he would be killed if he didn't stop his homosexual activity. Local residents who witnessed the killing did not report the incident to police. Prior to the incident in July, four men were killed in similar attacks on supposedly "gay" men in Lahj's capital city this year.
Over the last two years, as many as 316 gay men have been arrested on charges of homosexuality, according to official reports obtained by Inter Press Service from a security source under condition of anonymity.
In Yemen, the law sees homosexuality as a crime punishable by death. Members of fundamentalist and extremist Islamic groups like Al-Qaeda routinely take the law into their own hands, killing homosexual men.
Modern Yemeni law has its roots in the principles of Sharia, the moral code and religious law of orthodox Islam. According to Yemeni writer and law scholar Ahmed al-Hasani, the punishment for sodomy under Sharia law is a whipping of a hundred strokes for each partner if they are unmarried, along with imprisonment of up to one year. If married and accused of sodomy, the punishment is stoning to death. The punishment for lesbianism is up to three years imprisonment.
According to an article published by Inter Press Agency, the U.N. Human Rights Committee and Amnesty International have also asked the Yemeni government to repeal laws which provide for, or could result in, prosecution and punishment of people because of their sexual orientation.
Fouad al-Ghaffari, an aide to Yemen's minister of human rights, said the ministry is not aware of any communication from international human rights groups.
"We don't have gays in Yemen," he said, reiterating the official position on the subject.
Yemen is not alone in its harsh criminalization of homosexuality. According to Ranker, governments in Mauritania, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Somalia, United Arab Emirates, parts of Nigeria and parts of Malaysia can also enforce the death penalty for being gay.