The UN Security Council discussed violence against homosexuals committed by the Daesh (ISIS) extremist group in Syria and Iraq during an informal meeting Monday, marking the first-ever council discussion dedicated solely to gay rights.
Organized by the US and Chile, the informal event was attended by 13 of the 15 council members and several other countries with gay rights activists and victims testifying.
Subhi Nahas, a gay Syrian who was granted asylum in the US, told the council that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people had faced violence from the Syrian government, but Daesh has increased attacks on them.
"After [Daesh] took over, it stepped up the violent attacks on suspected LGBTI people, publishing images of their exploits," 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."
Feeling terrified in Syria, Nahas fled to Lebanon and then Turkey. When he continued to receive death threats in Turkey, he applied for asylum in the United States. He has lived in San Francisco for three months.
"I implore you to do everything in your power to give sexual and gender minorities and other vulnerable refugees safe haven where they can again know security," he told Security Council and other UN members.
After the briefing, Nahas told reporters that the Daesh organization advertises itself as the "moral guardians" of communities trying to rid them of "perverts."
Jessica Stern, executive director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, said that at least 30 people have been executed by Daesh forces for sodomy and other morality-related offenses.
Stern said that it was hard to know just how widespread attacks were because people in the region were afraid to share information and noted that one of the main sources of information was the Daesh group, which posts images of executed LGBTI people on the internet.
Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, said the Security Council's meeting on gay rights was "a small but historic step."
"We're getting this issue into the DNA of the United Nations," Power said.
The Security Council countries not present at the meeting were Angola and Chad. Four other council members — China, Russia, Nigeria and Malaysia — were present but did not make any statements.
This story has been edited from the source material.
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