Iraq Criminalizes Same-Sex Relationships With Up To 15 Years In Prison

Iraq Criminalizes Same-Sex Relationships With Up To 15 Years In Prison

Iraq has officially criminalized same-sex relationships with new legislation backed by Shia Muslim political parties, the largest coalition in the country’s parliament. 

The new law penalizes same-sex marriage with a 15-year maximum prison sentence. Supporters claim it will uphold religious values, despite being condemned by civil rights advocates in Iraq, according to reports from Al Jazeera. 

A copy of the law acquired by Reuters says it aims to “protect Iraqi society from moral depravity and the calls for homosexuality [that] have overtaken the world.” 

Officially known by the title “The Law on Combating Prostitution and Homosexuality,” it bans same-sex relationships with a penalty of anywhere from 10-15 years in prison, and mandates seven years in prison for any person who “promotes homosexuality or prostitution,” Al Jazeera reports.

The law also punishes transgender people for making biological sex changes, and doctors who may perform gender-affirming surgery. An earlier draft of the law had mandated the death sentence for those convicted of engaging in same-sex acts, but was amended after much push back from the U.S. and E.U.

Up until this point, same-sex relations were not ruled by law in Iraq, but LGBTQ+ people have often been targeted by law enforcement and hate groups. 

Human rights advocates and activists have spoken out about the new law around the world. Rasha Younes, deputy director of the LGBTQ rights program at Human Rights Watch told Reuters, “The Iraqi parliament’s passage of the anti-LGBT law rubber-stamps Iraq’s appalling record of rights violations against LGBTQ people and is a serious blow to fundamental human rights.” 

In Iraq, attacks on the LGBTQ+ community have intensified in recent years, as political groups have campaigned against expressions of sexuality by burning rainbow flags and promoting misinformation about the spread of disease from same-sex contact, according to Amnesty International.

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