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LGBT Rights Discussed By UN Security Council For First Time In 'Small But Historic Step'

25/08/2015 11:56 BST | Updated 25/08/2015 14:59 BST

The United Nations Security Council has discussed LGBT rights for the first time in its 70 year existence, in what the US ambassador described as a "small but historic step".

The council, responsible for maintaining international peace and security, used a meeting at its New York headquarters to discuss the plight of members of the LGBT community in Iraq and Syria.

United States ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said: “It's about time, 70 years after the creation of the UN, that the fate of LGBT persons who fear for their lives around the world is taking centre stage".

samantha power

Samantha Power gestures as she arrives for a Security Council meeting to vote on the Iran resolution

All 193 UN member states were invited to the informal meeting, according to Al Jazeera. Attendance at the meeting was not mandatory for all 15 security council members and Angola and Chad were not present.

The meeting heard from men who had faced threats of violence and death in their home countries because of their sexuality.

An Iraqi man, identified only as Adnan, spoke to the council by phone from an undisclosed location, according to Reuters.

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He explained that the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group (also known as Isis, Isil or Daesh) targeted anyone suspected of being gay.

He said: "In my society, being gay means death and when [Islamic State] kills gays most people are happy because they think we are evil, and [Islamic State] gets a good credit for that.

"My own family turned against me when [Islamic State] was after me.

"If [Islamic State] didn't get me, members of my family would have done it."

He added that IS hunted down gay people by using the phone and Facebook contacts of those they had already captured.

Subhi Nahas, who fled Syria and came to the US, said that the country’s president Bashar Assad's government "launched a campaign accusing all dissidents of being homosexuals" following the Arab Spring uprisings.

is throw gay man off roof

IS has released horrific videos showing men being stoned to death after surviving being thrown from a building

Gay meeting places were raided, with many arrested and tortured and some never heard from again.

Nahas watched terrified as al Qaeda-linked group Nusra Front took over his home town of Idlib. The militants tortured and murdered men they suspected of being gay.

The situation worsened with the rise of IS, he said.

“At the executions, hundreds of townspeople, including children, cheered jubilantly as at a wedding.

"If a victim did not die after being hurled off a building, the townspeople stoned him to death. 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. I bear a scar on my chin as a token of his rage.”

Jessica Stern, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, said that “courts” established by IS had seen people accused of being gay shot, stone and beheaded.

She said that the militants had claimed responsibility for killing 30 men for “sodomy”.


Women and children freed from ISIS