The United Nations Security Council has discussed attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on sexual minorities, in the first meeting by the organisation to be focused on gay rights.
The United States ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, told reporters on Monday that “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”.
“This represents a small but historic step,” Power said.
The US and Chile hosted the meeting which was open to all member states interested in the plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people persecuted by the armed group.
All 193 UN member states were invited. Two of the 15 security council members, Chad and Angola, did not attend the closed meeting.
UN envoys heard accounts from Adnan, an Iraqi who fled northern Iraq after being targeted as gay, Syrian and now US resident Subhi Nahas, who was also threatened, and Jessica Stern, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Rights Commission.
Stern told the security council that courts established by ISIL in Iraq and Syria claim to have punished sodomy with stoning, firing squads and beheadings, and by pushing men from tall buildings.
The group has claimed responsibility for killing at least 30 people over their sexual orientation.
ISIL declared a caliphate in the vast swaths of territory it has seized across Iraq and Syria after taking the Iraqi city of Mosul in June 2014.
The UN and civil rights groups say ISIL members have been known to rape and kill women, recruit child soldiers and attack religious and sexual minorities.
In December, ISIL posted photographs online showing members throwing a man off a rooftop and then stoning him to death due to his sexual orientation. Two men were also reportedly stoned to death in Syria in November after declaring that they were gay.
Power, in remarks released after the meeting, said that ISIL was “denying a person’s basic right because of who they are”.
“It is ISIL deciding that, because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, they do not deserve to live,” she said.