UNITED NATIONS – The Islamic State extremist group has claimed responsibility for executing at least 30 people for sodomy, the head of an international gay rights organization said Monday at the first-ever U.N. Security Council meeting spotlighting what organizers called the "barbaric treatment."
"It's about time, 70 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," said U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, who organized the meeting on violence and discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people with Chile's U.N. envoy.
Jessica Stern, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, told the council that courts established by the militant group in Iraq and Syria claim to have punished sodomy with stoning, firing squads and beheadings and by pushing men from tall buildings.
Fear of the Islamic State group has fueled violence by other militias and "private actors" against LGBT individuals, she told the closed-door meeting.
Stern, whose remarks were released publicly, stressed that persecution of LGBT people in Iraq and Syria began long before the emergence of Islamic State militants, and "murder is only the most extreme form of violence."
"In addition to men perceived as gay, trans-identified people and lesbians are among those who have been raped and killed," she added.
The Islamic State group is now in control of about a third of Syria and Iraq.
Stern called for specific strategies to combat LGBT attacks, including U.N. action to relocate those most in need and bringing the gay community into broader human rights and humanitarian initiatives.
President Barack Obama has strongly supported LGBT rights, and Monday's meeting follows the June 27 U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriages in all 50 states. Chile's President Michelle Bachelet declared in April 2013 that she supports same-sex marriage and would seek to legalize it, though that hasn't happened yet.
According to a report in June by the U.N. human rights chief, at least 76 countries retain laws used to criminalize and harass people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, including laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relationships among adults.
France's U.N. Mission tweeted during Monday's meeting that "Violence, discriminations based on sexual orientation by #Daesh #ISIS may constitute international crimes."