Iraqi Kurdistan parliament considers ban on any 'promotion of homosexuality'

Iraqi Kurdistan parliament considers ban on any 'promotion of homosexuality'
3 min read
08 September, 2022
The parliament in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region is considering criminalising individuals, organizations and media outlets that "promote homosexuality".
The Kurdistan parliament is working on passing a draft law criminalising homosexuality. [Getty]

 Seventy-six lawmakers in the Kurdistan Parliament of northern Iraq have signed a bill "banning the promotion of homosexuality", subsequently any explicit promotion of LGBT rights or media coverage on the issue is punishable by financial fine and imprisonment.

The bill was proposed by Ismail Ali Taha, a lawmaker from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), and has been signed by 75 other Kurdish MPs from the different secular and Islamist parliamentary blocs.

The majority of Iraq's population, including the Kurdistan region, are Muslims and according to the Iraqi constitution, the Islamic Sharia law is the main source of the legislature in the country. Islamic Sharia law bans all sexual relationships outside the formal marriage.  

According to the bill, seen by The New Arab, there are no specific definitions of what is "promotion" and was written in vague and broad terms.

"Anyone, either by an action or speech, to promote or urge for homosexuality, would be sentenced to imprisonment, for a minimum period of one month up to one year, a financial fine from 500,000 Iraqi dinars up to five million Iraqi dinars, or both punishments," reads article one of the bill.

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The bill also stipulates that the punishments will be aggravated if those who breach the law are civil society organizations, government entities, or media channels. Punishments to the press include shutting down their offices, starting from a week and up to a month. 

"We have signed this bill based on the demands of the people of Kurdistan to eradicate bizarre phenomena that are contrary to the religion of the majority of the Kurdish people, against the principles of family and human nature," Omar Gulpi, MP from the Kurdistan Justice Group (KJG) told TNA. "We have seen indicators that some groups, even secretly, are promoting homosexuality in the Iraqi Kurdistan, this bill bans current and future promotion of homosexuality under foreign hegemony since this is the duty of the Kurdistan parliament."

"I think the bill is absurd, and if it passes, it means something is seriously wrong and we should be extremely worried, not just LGBT+ people, but all minorities should feel terrified. The groups who are pushing for this will eventually try to illegalize other minorities from speaking up for their rights," Zhiar Ali, a Kurdish LGBT activist, told TNA.

"The bill would make it illegal for any individual or organization to speak up for the human rights of gay individuals. It would also ban any media coverage of LGBT issues, and would make it a crime to hold any events or rallies in support of LGBT rights," he added.

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The Iraqi parliament had made similar moves to pass a law banning homosexuality in the country, a step deemed by activists that will allow "those who attack LGBT+ citizens to legally get away with their crimes".

"There is an agreement inside the Council of Representatives [parliament] to collect signatures after the current legislative vacation to pass a law for banning homosexuality in Iraq," Aref al-Hamami, an MP from the State of Law Coalition led by former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and member in the parliament's legal committee, said to the state-run Iraqi News Agency on 8 June.