HRW urges Iraq government to repeal law criminalizing LGBTQ+ conduct News
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HRW urges Iraq government to repeal law criminalizing LGBTQ+ conduct

HRW urged the Iraqi government on Monday to repeal a new law that prohibits same-sex conduct and transgender expression as it violates basic human rights such as freedom of expression, equality and non-discrimination.

The anti-LGBT law, as an amendment to existing the Iraqi “Law on Combatting Prostitution,” was passed on April 27, 2024. It criminalizes same-sex relationships and gender-confirming medical procedures, “propaganda of homosexuality”, and the imitation of women by males, all with long prison sentences. Draft laws similar to this one have been proposed in the past, but this one is the most stringent. The law was heavily criticized by various NGOs and national representatives.

Human Rights Watch called on Iraq to stop violating LGBT rights and to abandon this law as it reflects the hostility towards LGBT people manifested in laws and negative rhetoric. Rasha Younes, interim LGBT rights director at Human Rights Watch said:

The Iraqi parliament’s passage of the anti-LGBT law rubber-stamps the Iraqi government’s appalling record of rights violations against LGBT people and is a serious blow to fundamental human rights. The law adds insult to injury for LGBT people in Iraq, who are already facing violence and threats to their lives.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantees equal protection of human rights and the law without any form of discrimination. The UN Human Rights Committee has stated that sexual orientation is a status that is protected from discrimination under the covenant, and this is also confirmed by the Arab Charter of Human Rights, which Iraq is a member of.

Сondemnation of LGBTI rights has increased in Iraq, in recent years, especially by political groups affiliated with armed factions. In August 2023, the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission (CMC) demanded that the term “homosexuality” be replaced with “sexual deviance” in media content.