LGBTQ Iraqis Apprehensive about Future Amid Passage of Anti-Gay Legislation

Iraq's parliament approves harsh anti-LGBTQ law, drawing international condemnation and concerns over human rights violations against a vulnerable community.

Trim Correspondents
Updated On
New Update
Iraq Passes Law Criminalizing Same-Sex Relations and Gender-Affirming Surgery

Iraq Passes Law Criminalizing Same-Sex Relations and Gender-Affirming Surgery

The Iraqi parliament has approved a new law that criminalizes same-sex relations with prison sentences of up to 15 years and gender-affirming surgery with up to 3 years in prison. The legislation, which has drawn widespread international condemnation, also bans any organization that promotes "sexual deviancy," imposing a sentence of at least 7 years and a fine of no less than 10 million dinars (about $7,600).

The law further criminalizes "promoting" same-sex relations, men who "intentionally" act "effeminate", and "adultery with more than one person". It sets a minimum 7-year prison sentence for those who "promote" homosexuality and a maximum 3-year sentence for men who "intentionally" behave like women.

Why this matters: The passage of this law legitimizes prejudice and exposes LGBTQ Iraqis to hate crimes, police abuse, and other forms of discrimination. It runs contrary to several human rights treaties and conventions ratified by Iraq, violating the principles of equality and non-discrimination at the heart of international human rights law.

The United Nations has condemned the law, stating that it will "legitimize prejudice" and "expose people to hate crimes, police abuse, harassment, intimidation, blackmail and torture." Amnesty International has called the law an attack on human rights and an alarming escalation in the authorities' campaign to tighten control over freedoms.

The United States and the European Union have expressed opposition to the law, with the U.S. State Department and British Foreign Secretary criticizing it as a threat to human rights and personal freedoms. Iraqi officials have defended the law as upholding societal values, while some Iraqis expressed mixed views, with some supporting it on religious grounds and others opposing it as undemocratic.

LGBTQ Iraqis have long faced frequent attacks and discrimination, with incidents of kidnappings, rapes, torture, and murders often going unpunished. Human rights groups have accused the Iraqi government of failing to hold perpetrators accountable for these crimes against LGBTQ+ people. The passage of this law is seen as further endangering an already vulnerable community in Iraq.

Key Takeaways

  • Iraq passes law criminalizing same-sex relations, gender-affirming surgery
  • Law imposes prison sentences up to 15 years for same-sex acts
  • Law bans organizations promoting "sexual deviancy", punishable by 7+ years
  • Law condemned by UN, US, EU as violating human rights and freedoms
  • LGBTQ Iraqis face increased risks of hate crimes, abuse, and discrimination