UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 25 (UPI) -- The United Nations Security Council heard from gay Arab refugees in the first meeting on gay and transgender rights in its history.
"It's historic. Seventy years after the creation of the U.N. that the fate of LGBT persons who fear for their lives around the world is taking center stage. You have countries that have criminalized LGBT status. You have societies, of course, that are every bit as unwelcoming as they were 20, 30 years ago," said Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
At least 76 of 193 U.N. countries criminalize same-sex relations, and those convicted can face the death penalty in five, the U.N. Office of human rights said. Two Security Council members, Chad and Angola, did not send representatives to Monday's meeting.
Jessica Stern of the Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission told the council IS militants claim to have executed at least 30 gay people in Iraq and Syria, and anxiety over its retribution has provoked violence against LGBT people by other militias in the Middle East.
The council also heard testimony from two self-described gay Arab men. One, identifying himself as "Adman," spoke by telephone from an undisclosed location, saying, "In my society, being gay means death and when (IS) kills gays most people are happy because they think we are evil, and (IS) gets a good credit for that. My own family turned against me when (IS) was after me. If (IS) didn't get me, members of my family would have done it."
Another, Subbi Nahas, formerly of Syria and now living in the United States, spoke in person, noting that he saw videos of IS troops throwing gay people to their deaths from rooftops, adding, "This was to be my fate, too. I was terrified to go out. Nor was my home safe, as my father, who suspiciously monitored my every move, had learned I was gay."