The proposed law is yet another illustration, according to activists, of the worsening circumstances facing LGBTQ communities.
A draft law that would prohibit publishing on queer issues in Iraq has alarmed Iraq’s LGBTQ community. According to activists, this legislation would fuel hate speech and violence against the community in an already hostile environment that is homophobic.
A bill that would make all publishing on LGBTQ-related topics in Iraq illegal was signed on December 3 by 25 MPs, the majority of whom are Shia and are part of the Shia group Coordination Framework, which opposes the influential Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr.
Anyone who “promotes homosexuality for any reason, whether in the state’s media, institutions, schools, universities, and social media platforms, books, cinemas, theaters, publications, and in public” would be “punished” according to the proposed law.
Individual citizens could face fines of one million Iraqi dinars ($685), while organizations affiliated with the government and businesses could face millions more.
The law hasn’t been put to a vote yet, and it might not pass.
In an interview last week, Parliament Speaker Mohammed Halbousi said: “We do not need a law to criminalize homosexuality. We have the law of heaven, of religion, which rejects such fornication.”
However, activists claim that the proposed law is yet another illustration of the worsening circumstances facing LGBTQ communities.
Muqtada al-Sadr’s Rule
The legislation was introduced only a few days after Muqtada al-Sadr, the most well-known Shia cleric in the nation, urged his tens of millions of followers to band together to fight “the LGBTQ community, not with violence, nor with murder and threats, but with education, awareness, logic, and high moral standards.”
Up until June, when his MPs resigned from their positions after failing to form a government, Sadr controlled the largest bloc in parliament.
He stated in a different recent statement that “our goal is to familiarize, guide, and prevent them from being drawn into forbidden desires and lustful and chaotic freedom. “.
The demonization of LGBTQ people by Sadr is nothing new. He ascribed the spread of the monkeypox virus to them in May 2022. When the pandemic started, he did the same with Covid.
Sadr is acting opportunistically, according to Iraqi human rights activist Mohammed Gailan. He told reporters, “I think that through these popular topics, he’s just trying to fit in both politically and ideologically.”
“It is a tactic to rally the remnants of his supporters. Muqtada and other religious figures no longer hold great esteem among Iraq’s younger generation.”
Although homosexuality is not technically against the law in Iraq, it is not widely accepted in society, which puts the community at constant risk of threats and abuse.
According to Human Rights Watch, armed groups and the police regularly kidnap, rape, torture, and murder LGBTQ communities in Iraq.
Doski Azad, a trans woman, was reportedly killed by her brother in the Iraqi Kurdish city of Duhok in February 2022.