Was a Gay Teen Stoned to Death in Somalia?
Update: News website LGBTQNation now reports that the photographs of the stoning on Facebook were, in fact, taken from other, older stories. The photos, however, may have been used to illustrate the event. It's difficult for outside sources to verify the Somali incident since the country's ongoing conflicts have rendered it often inaccessible to Western reporters.
A teen was allegedly stone to death for being gay in Somalia, a conservative country located in East Africa. Identity Kenya, an LGBT news site for Kenya, gave the first reports of the appalling incident.
Identity Kenya cites the Facebook page of a gay Muslim group called Somali Gay Community. According to the organization, Mohamed Ali Baashi, 18, was buried in a hole up to his chest while members of a group called Al Shabaab, which apparently has connections to Al Qaeda, allegedly threw rocks at him.
The incident occurred on March 15 in Barawe, about 50 miles from Somalia's capital, Mogadishu. Located on the so-called Horn of Africa, Somalia has been wracked by civil war for years. The United States was briefly involved but quickly got out during Bill Clinton's presidency after the "Black Hawk Down" incident.
Most recently, Somalia has become known worldwide as a haven for pirates who prey on commercial barges in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea. The pirates have also taken over private vessels.
The Facebook page posted three photos allegedly taken at Mohamed Baashi's stoning. One of the picture's captions reads, "In a scene straight out of the Dark Ages, this Somali young man accused of sodomy was stoned to death by Islamic thugs while horrified villagers were forced to watch."
Identity Kenya says that members of Al Shabaab accused the teenager of sodomy and that he was "stoned to death by Islamic rebels while horrified villagers were forced to watch." According to the Facebook page, a judge said that Mohamed Baashi and another man who had been accused of murder both confessed to their crimes. The other alleged murderer was shot to death.
"This is their day of justice," the judge, told the villagers, according to Somali Gay Community. "We investigated, and this man did what Muslims shouldn't do and as a result, he will be stoned to death and the one that killed someone will be shot because homosexuality is more punishable in Islam."
It may come to no surprise that Somalia, like a number of African nations, offers virtually no rights to its LGBT community. Homosexuality is illegal and is punishable by up to three years in prison, according to Article 409 of the Somali Penal Code.
The legislation says that sexual intercourse with a person of the same sex is punishable by imprisonment from three months to three years. In 2010, the U.S. Department of State's Human Rights Report found "sexual orientation was considered a taboo topic, and there was no public discussion of this issue in any region of the country," and that "there were no reports of societal violence or discrimination based on sexual orientation."