Islamic State persecutes LGBT people 'simply for who they are', UN told

Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the UN, chaired the Security Council's first-ever briefing on attacks against the LGBT community in the Middle East.Reuters | Lucas Jackson

Refugees fleeing persecution from ISIS have told the UN Security Council of the extreme violence directed towards LGBT men and women.

A landmark meeting on Monday was the panel's first ever briefing on attacks on against LGBT people.

Many gay, bisexual and transgender people have not escaped persecution, Subhi Nahas, an openly gay Syrian refugee told the council.

"My friends are feeling alone and terrified living in places where people who don't fit into what others deem as 'normal,' are being persecuted and killed simply for who they are and what they believe," he said.

Hundreds of people accused of being homosexual have been killed by ISIS militants, advocates said.

A video released in June showed four supposedly gay men being thrown from the roof of a tall building in Syria. ISIS have routinely persecuted, enslaved and killed other minority groups, including Christians, since their rise to strength.

While it was not the first time the persecution of LGBT people has been mentioned before the 15-member council that includes the US, Britain, China, France and Russia as permanent members, the panel had never convened to talk specifically about attacks on LGBT people anywhere in the world.

Acknowledging sexual minorities in this way was an "important step" for expanding human rights, said Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, who sponsored the meeting with her diplomatic counterpart from Chile.

"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," Power added. "This represents a small but historic step."

All 193 UN member states were invited to the briefing held in New York. Two of the 15 security council members, Chad and Angola, did not attend the closed meeting.