Living in Fear: Iraq Passes Anti-LGBTQ+ Law Which Could See Gays Imprisoned for 15 Years

The Iraq Parliament has passed a new law that creates severe punishments for LGBTQ+ individuals and could potentially put gay people in prison for up to 15 years.

A New Law

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The Iraqi Parliament has passed a new law titled “Law on Combating Prostitution and Homosexuality” which will have serious consequences for members of the LGBTQ+ community within the country.

Harsh Penalties

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The new law amends a 1988 anti-sex work law so that it will now impose severe penalties for anyone caught participating in LGBTQ+ activities.

Up to 15 Years in Prison

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The penalties include ten to fifteen years in prison for someone being homosexual, one to three years for transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals, and seven years for anyone promoting homosexuality.

Further Provisions

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The new law has also made provisions for people partaking in “wife swapping” and dressing in a way that imitates the opposite sex.

Pushing for the Death Penalty

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Originally, the new law also included the death penalty for homosexuals, but this was ultimately amended due to strong international pushback from countries like the United States.

Holding Onto Tradition

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In the end, the law criminalizes same-sex relationships, gender-affirming healthcare, and the promotion of LGBTQ+ identities in an attempt to maintain traditional gender roles and relationships.

The United States Take

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The U.S. State Department’s spokesperson, Mathew Miller, spoke out about the issue, criticizing the law for the effects it could have throughout the country.

Threatening Those at Risk

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Miller said the law “threatens those most at risk in Iraqi society” and “can be used to hamper free speech and expression.”

The US State Department Itself

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After Miller spoke out about the situation, the US State Department released a statement highlighting the law’s broader implications on civil liberties.

Threatening Those Most at Risk

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The statement read, “This amendment threatens those most at risk in Iraqi society. It can be used to hamper free speech and expression and inhibit the operations of [non-governmental organizations] across Iraq.”

Vague Laws

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Previously, there were no explicit laws criminalizing homosexuality, but authorities did manage to prosecute LGBTQ+ individuals under vague morality and anti-prostitution laws.

LGBTQ+ Life Before the Law

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Even before this law, the LGBTQ+ community faced regular entrapment, arrest, and detention, suffering interrogation, abuse, and extortion under custody.

Hurting the Economy

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The new law has also been criticized for its potential impact on Iraq’s economy. It may hinder its ability to diversify and expand by turning away foreign investors.

Conservative Support

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The law passed with 170 out of 329 members of Parliament voting in favor and had significant support from conservative Shia Muslim parties.

Protecting Against Western Interference

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The MP who introduced the law,  Raad Al-Maliki, said the law was necessary to protect Islamic and societal values against Western interference.

Combating “Sexual Deviancy”

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Al-Maliki said the new law is “a significant step in combating sexual deviancy given the infiltration of unique cases contradicting Islamic and societal values.”

Organizations Speaking Out

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Many organizations have spoken out against the law, like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, who have criticized the law as an attack on fundamental human rights and of the LGBTQ+ community.

Deputy Director of the LGBT+ Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, Rasha Younes, said, “The Iraqi parliament’s passage of the anti-LGBT law rubber-stamps Iraq’s appalling record of rights violations against LGBT people and is a serious blow to fundamental human rights.”

LGBTQ+ advocacy groups like IraQueer have also highlighted the ongoing persecution and have warned that the new law further endangers the lives and freedoms of many individuals.

Blindly Hurting Lives

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The IraQueer statement read, “As they have done before, they will blindly hurt the lives of many individuals in the name of fear and misinformation.

Risking Iraqi Freedom

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The IraQueer statement concluded, “It’s not only the LGBT community at risk, Iraqi freedom is at risk!”

The post Living in Fear: Iraq Passes Anti-LGBTQ+ Law Which Could See Gays Imprisoned for 15 Years first appeared on Pulse of Pride.

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