Yemeni Houthis Sentence 13 Men to Death for Homosexuality

Thirteen people have been sentenced to public execution by a Houthi court on homosexual charges, while another 35 people have been imprisoned for similar accusations. The ruling came amidst an ongoing war between the United States and Houthis, who are backed by Iran.

The ruling was made in Ibb, a Houthi-controlled province where the jihadist group has been launching attacks against commercial and military ships in the Red Sea since Hamas launched its deadly offensive against Israel last October 7th, opening a war that has reached its fourth month this February.

The Houthis have a history of sentencing more people to death than they actually execute, with a 2022 report by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor saying that the group had handed down 350 death sentences since 2014, and only 11 of those sentences have resulted in an execution.

However, many experts believe the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, as well as the Houthis ramping up its attacks against military and commercial vessels, might change this.

"The [Houthis] are ramping up their abuses at home while the world is busy watching their attacks in the Red Sea," Niku Jafarnia, Yemen researcher for Human Rights Watch, said.

A 2023 report by the UN Security Council said that "the Houthis are [reportedly] detaining children as young as 13 years old," some of whom "are accused of 'indecent acts' for their alleged homosexual orientation."

The group, which subscribes to a radical form of Shia Islam, has been fighting against the Yemeni government in the Yemeni Civil War and controls a portion of western Yemen, including Sanaa, Yemen’s capital. The Houthis also frequently proclaim their official slogan, "God is great, death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews, victory to Islam."

According to the US State Department, the Houthis’ attacks on ships since October last year have disrupted a fifth of global shipping of food, fuel, and medicine. Their attacks affected the economies of many countries, including China, where Chinese shipping costs to Europe have tripled and even reached pandemic levels. Since January, the US and its allies have retaliated against Houthi attacks with airstrikes on key Houthi targets in Yemen.

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