LGBTQ+ Iraqis, allies angered at parliament bid to ban homosexuality

LGBTQ+ Iraqis, allies angered at parliament bid to ban homosexuality
LGBTQ+ Iraqis are calling for solidarity after parliament kickstarted a process to officially ban homosexuality
2 min read
11 July, 2022
LGBTQ+ Iraqis have for years been subjected to murders [Getty]

Iraqis are standing up against a law that will effectively criminalise being a member of the LGBTQ+ community in the country after the parliament on Friday started planing ways to ban homosexuality.

A member of the parliamentary legal committee announced the controversial move to Iraqi media shortly after a session. 

"It was agreed within the House of Representatives to collect signatures after returning to the session to legislate a law prohibiting homosexuality in Iraq",  State of Law coalition MP Aref Al-Hamami told Iraqi News Agency.

The move sparked outrage by many Iraqis who fear for the LGBTQ+ community's safety, especially considering that they are already a target for attacks by militias.

LGBTQ+ Iraqis have for years been subjected to murders, torture, kidnapping, physical assaults by militias, in some cases by members of their own families.

Iraqi police are often condemned for doing little to help residents subjected to homophobic attacks, as is the government for its refusal to rectify vague policies that have many loopholes to justify targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

"While #LGBT+ Iraqis have been the target of systematic killing campaigns and things are as bad as it gets, this law will allow the government to "legally" get away with murder putting #LGBT+ citizens and those advocating for us in greater danger", said activist and founder of rights group IraQueer Amir Ashour.

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Liberal politicians have vowed to block the move and protect the interests of Iraq's queer community.

"Our party affirms its total rejection of this extremist proposal, which threatens the lives of more than 360,000 citizens and gives terrorism legitimacy to suppress human rights and confiscate the freedoms stipulated in the Iraqi constitution," said Secretary-General of the October 25 Movement Tallal Alhariri.

"We will always support the freedom of the LGBTQ+ community as much as we support all freedoms", he added.

Attacks against the queer community have taken place as some of Iraq's most influential politicians, including Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, repeatedly made queerphobic statements.

Sadr blamed the Covid-19 pandemic, and later the monkeypox outbreak, on homosexuals.

In May, he called on the LGBTQ+ community to repent and suggested creating a day dedicated to raising awareness against homosexuality in a tweet taken down by Twitter for violating the social media platform's rules.

Homosexuality was legalised in Iraq after the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein. However, there are a number of laws on adultery, sodomy and prostitution which are often used to target the LGBTQ+ community.