Queer Iraqis alarmed over proposed law banning homosexuality

Iraqi queer activists are raising alarms over a proposal to criminalise homosexuality in the Middle Eastern country. Although no law currently criminalises homosexuality directly in Iraq, authorities frequently use laws against immodesty to target LGBT people, who already face violence and harassment in their communities. The advocacy group IraQueer says the proposal is a license to murder LGBT people.

Supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr burn an LGBT flag in Baghdad’s Tahrir square (Photo courtesy of Facebook via Middle East Eye)

Middle East Eye reported:

Iraq: Alarm over proposed law banning homosexuality

Legislation would allow anti-LGBTQ+ groups to ‘get away with murder,’ warn rights campaigners

Rights groups have reacted with alarm to proposals for a law banning homosexuality in Iraq, warning that it would allow anti-LGBTQ+ vigilantes to “get away with murder”.

A member of the Parliamentary Legal Committee told the official Iraqi News Agency [in early July] that it had begun formulating proposals to criminalise homosexuality, which was made legal in Iraq after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

“It was agreed within the parliament to collect signatures after returning to session to legislate a law prohibiting homosexuality in Iraq,” said Aref al-Hamami, an MP with the State of Law coalition led by former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

“[The] legislation of such a law will be reinforced by legal provisions that prevent homosexuality and the perversions associated with it.”

Although homosexuality has been officially legal in Iraq for almost two decades, politicians and religious leaders in the country have frequently railed against LGBTQ+ people, and laws punishing “immodest acts” have been used to target them.

Many members and suspected members of the community have also been subject to death threats, attacks and outright murder by armed groups.

Amir Ashour, head of the IraQueer rights group, told Middle East Eye that the new law would provide cover for such attacks.

“This will allow the Iraqi government to legally get away with murder and provide legal protection for armed groups and other criminals who continue to target LGBTQ+ citizens,” he said.

“This will also have a huge impact on the movement, as queer people and those advocating for us will be facing legal consequences, in addition to the extra-judicial violence that we’ve been facing for decades.”

‘Homosexual-pox’

Iraq has been unable to form a government since elections in November 2021, which were poorly attended and heavily contested.

The Sairoon coalition led by influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr won the most seats in the election. However, last month he ordered his MPs to withdraw from parliament, reportedly in an attempt to break the deadlock in negotiations to form a government.

Sadr has in recent years repeatedly attacked LGBTQ+ people in statements, blaming them for the Covid-19 pandemic and the spread of other diseases.

On 23 May, in a statement published on his Twitter account, Sadr suggested monkeypox was a result of homosexual behaviour, as some of the early cases detected were among gay men.

“I call on them [homosexuals] to repent,” he wrote, then went on to call for a repeal of laws upholding gay rights in order to “protect humanity from the monkeypox epidemic or what we call homosexual-pox.”

He also proposed the creation of an annual day against homosexuality.

Ashour said Sadr and other politicians had been pushing campaigns against LGBTQ+ rights to avoid discussing the material problems facing Iraq, such as unemployment, corruption and a continuing lack of government.

“I think the Iraqi government, including individuals like Sadr, continue to try to distract Iraqis from the real problems in Iraq, including their failure to form a government, uphold human rights, and provide basic needs like paying salaries and other services,” he said.

“They have been using the public’s lack of accurate knowledge about LGBTQ+ identities by pretending that they are fighting against ‘real problems’ that Iraq is facing.”

Written by Staff Writer

LGBTQ rights advocacy journalist. Name withheld for security.

One Comment

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  1. And were’s the outrage in the world?

    A bunch of religious fanatics and idiots planning to make the lives of their own citizen hell, even killing them… and the outrage of the world is deafenign silent…….

    Sure, when it would be announced a law would be created to take rights of christians away, or jews, or any other group that is so powerfull that they can incite Representatives and Senators to climb the barricades, the outrage would be immense, but now it are the gays…… SILENCE!

    I would not be surprised when one day, one oment ALL gays from all around the world will come together in ONE single sweap, worldwide, and kick out all those stinking and rotting hypocrites that oppose equal rights and equality for all!

    The hypocrisy has going on long enough I think!

    There is NO religious book that condemns homosexuality, and everyone claiming otherwise MUST step up and proof my wrong openly and publicly with verses, articles or whatever!
    (and no, I do not accept any references to false prophets, the Real Original Scriptures are teh ONLY ones! No personal opinions of preachers, immams, or crackpots! No translations of whatever religious book! So, STAND UP and give EVIDENCE of my wrong! Or be silent ever after!)

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