Iraq's New Anti-LGBTQ+ Law Alarms United Nations

Baghdad quietly passed the law Saturday criminalizing same-sex relations with harsh prison sentences up to 15 years.
The legislation marks Iraq’s first law that explicitly punishes same-sex relations.
The legislation marks Iraq’s first law that explicitly punishes same-sex relations.(Representational image: Unsplash)

The United Nations said Monday that it was “alarmed” by a new anti-LGBTQ+ law passed by Iraq’s parliament. 

Baghdad quietly passed the law Saturday criminalizing same-sex relations with harsh prison sentences up to 15 years. 

Ravina Shamdasani, U.N. human rights office spokesperson, said in a statement that the law “should be shelved.” 

The law criminalizes transgender people under an amendment to a 1988 anti-prostitution law. The amendment prohibits "biological sex change based on personal desire and inclination," punishing transgender people and doctors who perform gender-affirming care with three years in prison.

Iraq’s parliament set a seven-year minimum prison sentence for those who “promote” homosexuality.
Iraq’s parliament set a seven-year minimum prison sentence for those who “promote” homosexuality.(Representational image: Unsplash)

Iraq’s parliament set a seven-year minimum prison sentence for those who “promote” homosexuality and a maximum three-year sentence for men who “intentionally” act like women. 

Shamdasani said the law violates several human rights treaties signed by Iraq, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which provides all people equal protection from discrimination. 

The law perpetuates “discrimination and denial of access to basic services, including in health care,” she said. 

The legislation marks Iraq’s first law that explicitly punishes same-sex relations. But LGBTQ+ Iraqis have always been forced into the shadows.

Gay and transgender Iraqis are frequent targets of "kidnappings, rapes, torture and murders," according to a 2022 report by Human Rights Watch and IraQueer. 

Shamdasani said the new bill will “legitimize prejudice” and “expose people to hate crimes, police abuse, harassment, intimidation, blackmail and torture.

(VOA/VV)

The legislation marks Iraq’s first law that explicitly punishes same-sex relations.
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