An Iraqi police official says as many as six gay men have been killed in Baghdad after religious clerics condemned being gay.

The Reuters news agency is reporting that two gay men were killed in Sadr City, a Baghdad slum, on Thursday, and police say they have found the bodies of four others.

Being gay is illegal in Iraq and nearly universally in the Middle East. Conditions in Iraq, however, continue to deteriorate for gay men and lesbians as religious leaders gain greater influence.

“Two young men were killed on Thursday. They were sexual deviants. Their tribes killed them to restore their family honor,” a Sadr City official told the news agency.

The source also said four bodies were discovered just weeks ago, each marked “pervert” on their chests.

Shiite cleric Sattar al-Battat has repeatedly condemned being gay during prayers, saying Islam prohibits it.

Men who adopt the more Western values of short hair and a clean-shaven face are often accused of being gay in the Middle East.

“This [homosexuality] has spread because of the absence of the Mehdi Army, the spread of sexual films and satellite television and a lack of government surveillance,” the office's of Sheikh Ibrahim al-Gharawi, a Shiite cleric, told the news agency.