BAGHDAD, April 8 (UPI) -- The slayings of as many as 25 gay men and boys in Iraq in recent weeks show the country is still a religious, conservative and violent place, observers say.
The killings have happened in the slums of Baghdad's Sadr City, where new freedoms have encouraged more self-expression. But being openly gay in a land where homosexuality is legally prohibited is a dangerous undertaking, The New York Times reported Wednesday.
Sadr City's Muslim clerics have reportedly urged the faithful to destroy homosexuality Iraqi society and police have undertaken an effort to arrest and jail gay men.
"Homosexuality is against the law," police Lt. Muthana Shaad told the Times. "And it's disgusting," he said, adding that for the past four months his officers have been cracking down on gays in a "campaign to clean up the streets and get the beggars and homosexuals off them."