Iraqi-Kurdish MP slams arrest of LGBTQ+ activists in Iraq

Iraqi-Kurdish MP slams arrest of LGBTQ+ activists in Iraq
An Iraqi-Kurdish MP criticised the arrests last week of people 'suspected' of being part of the LGBTQ+ community in Sulaimani.
2 min read
05 April, 2021
The Iraqi penal code does not criminalize any same-sex activities among adults [Getty]
The recent arrest of "suspected" LGBTQ+ activists in the Iraqi city of Sulaimani is "a crime on human rights", an Iraqi-Kurdish MP said on Sunday.

The arrest of members of the "rainbow community", MP Shadi Nawzad warned, is a violation of "human rights".

"We need to know those arrested were arrested on what basis," Nawzad said, who is also a member of Iraqi-Kurdish parliament's Social Affairs and Protection of Human Rights Committee. 

"The arrest of people on charges that they are from the rainbow community is in itself a violation of human rights."

A joint operation took place on Thursday, when security officers arrested people suspected of "immorality", according to operation supervisor Pshtiwan Bahadin, claiming this was part of a "crackdown on prostitution".

"We have promised our people that we will not let anyone disrupt the security of this city, and we will continue our efforts tonight and every night," he told local media. "We will investigate people who have arrest warrants, those who perform destructive acts and want to ruin the city."

The operation took place right after the US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor issued their 2020 Iraq country report.

It mentioned the violence and abuse the LGBTQ+ community is facing in Iraq.

"LGBTI individuals reported they could not live openly in the IKR [Iraqi Kurdistan Region] without fear of violence at the hands of family members, acquaintances, or strangers," the report said.

Following the arrests, the US consulate in Erbil tweeted their opposition to the move.

"We are watching with concern the events in #Sulaymaniya that seem to be targeting members of the #LGBTI community for arrest," the tweet read.

"This campaign will put LGBT+ residents of Slemani city and Iraq in an even more vulnerable position," Iraqi LGBTQ rights organisation IraQueer tweeted.

"The claims of planning to 'examine these individuals' will directly violate these individuals' human rights and dignity."

Back in February, Kurdish MP Gulpi filed a lawsuit against LGBTQ+ advocacy organisation Rasan, saying homosexuality is a "violation" to public rights and "morals".

The Iraqi penal code does not criminalise any same-sex activities among adults, but the LGBTQ+ community is not protected by law.

Last May, the Iraqi ministry of foreign affairs and several other leaders condemned foreign embassies for offending the country's "norms and values" when the European Union mission raised the rainbow flag - associated with the LGBTQ+ community - on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.

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