Iraq Moves to Officially Outlaw Homosexuality


The Parliament of Iraq has passed several amendments that will formally criminalise homosexuality and transgender expression as jailable offences.

LGBTQ people have historically been targeted through “morality” laws in Iraq, which has a grim history marked by executions, mob violence, and “honour killings” targeting queer individuals.

The new legislation, which amends the country’s anti-prostitution law, now explicitly bans consensual homosexual relations and transgender expression.

Prison Sentences of up to 15 Years

When first introduced last year by independent MP Raad al-Maliki, the bill sought to impose the death penalty for same-sex conduct, but this has been reduced to prison sentences of between 10 and 15 years.

A person assigned as male at birth who is deemed to dress or present themselves in an effeminate manner can be jailed for up to three years, while the promotion of homosexuality is punishable by no less than seven years in prison.

Anyone who undergoes gender-affirmation surgery, as well as the doctor or surgeon who conducts the procedure, will face up to three years in jail.

“With this vote, we have ended the stage of homosexuality to where there is no return, and we have curbed the mouths of those who advocate for it and those who support its spread, and thus preserved our values and the principles of our society derived from the right religion,” said MP Murtadha al-Saadi after the bill was passed.

An Assault on Human Rights

Amnesty International described the new law as “yet another blow to the LGBTI community” in Iraq and the region.

“LGBTI individuals in Iraq endure relentless intimidation and violence at the hands of armed actors who operate with absolute impunity hounding, maiming and killing people based on their real or perceived sexual orientation openly,” said the organization’s Iraq Researcher Razaw Salihy.

“The latest amendments are an assault on human rights and represent an alarming escalation in the authorities’ campaign to tighten control over freedoms,” added Salihy.

Rasha Younes, senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said at the time of the law’s introduction: “The Iraqi government has failed to tackle discriminatory practices that underpin violence against LGBT people. Instead it has promoted anti-LGBT ‘morality’-based legislation that fuels violence and discrimination against already marginalized sexual and gender minorities.

In August 2023, the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission instructed all media platforms to stop using the words ‘homosexual’, ‘homosexuality’ and ‘gender’ and instead use the term “sexual deviance” as a replacement for ‘homosexuality’.

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend