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Report that gay Somalian teen stoned to death in doubt due to fraudulent photos

Wednesday, March 20, 2013
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Reports by an LGBT activist group in Africa that a gay Somalian teenager was stoned to death last week as a punishment for the crime of homosexuality, and widely reported by LGBT bloggers on Wednesday, may prove to be false.

The group Somali Gay Community claimed, in a series of posts on their Facebook page, that 18-year-old Mohamed Ali Baashi was buried in a hole up to his chest and then stoned to death by members of the Al Qaeda-linked group Al Shabaab on March 15, in Barawe, about 50 miles from the Somalian capital city, Mogadishu.

The Somalia group alleged the young man was accused of sodomy, and that horrified villagers were forced to watch. The story was accompanied by several, graphic photos that the group claimed were of the stoning.

The story was reported Monday by Identity Kenya, another LGBT activist group in the region, and the unconfirmed report was widely distributed by LGBT-oriented websites.

But in attempts to verify the group’s claim, LGBTQ Nation discovered that all of the photographs purported to be of the stoning, were copied from unrelated incidents dating as far back as 2008, and were taken from stories previously reported by Associated Press, Reuters and Al Jazerra.

Identity Kenya also acknowledged that it could not independently verify the group’s claims or the alleged stoning. Efforts to reach the group “Somali Gay Community” have been unsuccessful.

Somalia is one of 37 countries on the African continent where homosexuality is illegal, and incidents such as described by “Somali Gay Community” are not uncommon in small, remote villages.

While it is possible the incident actually occurred, the inability to confirm details of the event, and fraudulent use of photos, cast doubt on the group’s credibility.

As of Wednesday night, the group’s claims and unrelated photos remain posted on their Facebook page.

The claims and photos are here, here, and here. (Warning: some graphic content.) The photo posted at Identity Kenya was taken from the Somali Gay Community Facebook page, but has since been removed.

Update: The Associated Press reported Thursday that a Somali resident said al-Shabab fighters stoned to death a man for carrying out a homosexual sex act. The resident, Yusuf Abdi, said the group buried a blindfolded man to his waist last Friday and threw stones at him until he died.

An al-Shabab official, who refused to be named, said one of its judges sentenced the man to death because he forced a 13-year-old boy to have sex with him. No details have been confirmed.

Developing story, check back for updates.

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