An aspiring actor and model from Iraq has been found dead in Baghdad after reportedly being “stabbed and tortured” because of his perceived sexuality.

The body of Karar Noshi, a student of Baghdad University’s College of Fine Arts, was found dumped on Palestine Street in the Iraqi capital, two days after he was reportedly kidnapped.

According to Kurdistan24 there was “evidence he had been tortured and viciously stabbed.”

Unconfirmed images showing what appears to be the young man’s body have been circulating on social media, while reports say Noshi was targeted because of his appearance and perceived sexuality.

Known for his long blond hair, Noshi had been the subject of online trolling  after several Facebook pages maliciously declared him “the Beauty King of Iraq”.

According to security sources, he had been targeted with death threats because of his physical appearance and hairstyle.

Noshi had previously hit back at the spiteful comments in a Facebook post, declaring that the real “beauty king” of Iraq was “every young man fighting with all his honor to defend the nation.”

“As for the pictures, they are from theatrical and cinematic works of art, which I pride myself on,” he added.

“I cherish my personal freedom to build a unique external appearance. I remain silent about the abusive responses that undoubtedly reflect the level of their writers.”

Noshi’s true sexuality was unknown, but those perceived to be gay still face widespread violence and persecution in Iraqi society, despite same-sex sexual activity technically being legalised in 2003.

Iraq’s first formal LGBT+ rights group, IraQueer, was founded in March 2015 to support emerging LGBT+ communities in the Iraq and Kurdistan region.

The group’s founder and executive Director, Amir Ashour – who is currently living in Sweden for his own safety – previously spoke to Attitude about the struggle LGBT+ people still face in Iraq.

“The security concerns are our biggest,” he said. “The people who look more as if they might be LGBT+ people face a lot of difficulty in the streets: they could be attacked by people, by religious militias, or they could be violated by police forces.”

Of the consequences of being outed, he explained: “In the beginning [LGBT+ people] are kicked out of the house. It could lead to losing the opportunity to continue your education if you are in school.

“It will definitely lead to losing your job if you are working and in some cases being murdered — either by extended family members or by religious militias.”

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