Iraq Criminalises Same-Sex Relationships with Maximum 15 Years in Prison

Iraq Criminalises Same-Sex Relationships with Maximum 15 Years in Prison

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Iraq’s parliament has approved a bill criminalising same-sex relationships and imposing jail terms ranging from 10 to 15 years.

Additionally, transgender individuals could face imprisonment for one to three years under the new legislation. Proponents of the bill argue that it upholds religious values in the country, while critics view it as another violation of LGBT rights in Iraq.

Under this legislation, not only same-sex relationships could face prison terms, but also individuals promoting homosexuality or prostitution, doctors performing gender reassignment surgery, men displaying behaviours deemed “intentionally” feminine, and participants in “wife swapping.”

Initially, a draft of the bill proposed capital punishment for same-sex relationships but was amended following opposition from the US and other Western nations.

Lawmaker Amir al-Maamouri described the law as a significant step in combating what he termed “sexual deviancy” that contradicts Islamic and societal values.

The bill’s passage was reportedly delayed until after Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani’s recent visit to the US to avoid affecting diplomatic relations.

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Lawmaker Raed al-Malik said, “We didn’t want to impact the visit,” adding that it was “an internal matter and we do not accept any interference in Iraqi affairs.”

Iraq has a history of targeting LGBT individuals, with previous morality laws used to punish them. Human rights organisations have documented cases of abduction, torture, rape, and murder targeting LGBT people in the country.

Major Iraqi political parties have intensified criticism of LGBT rights, with rainbow flags being burned at protests.

The US State Department, however, condemned the legislation, calling it a threat to human rights and freedoms and warning of its potential negative impact on Iraq’s economy and foreign investment as it said, “The legislation also weakens Iraq’s ability to diversify its economy and attract foreign investment. International business coalitions have already indicated that such discrimination in Iraq will harm business and economic growth in the country.”

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UK Secretary of State Lord David Cameron also criticised the amendments, calling it “dangerous and worrying,”

In a post on X, he said, “No one should be targeted for who they are. We encourage the Government of Iraq to uphold human rights and freedoms of all people without distinction.”

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

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