Iraqi leader who blames coronavirus on same-sex marriage demands Islamic flag is raised across UK and EU to counter-protest Pride flag

Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr coronavirus covid-19 Pride flag

An Iraqi leader who blamed the coronavirus pandemic on same-sex marriage is, to the surprise of no one, raging over a Pride flag in Baghdad.

Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, who is head of the Sadrist Movement and the Saraya al-Salam militia, said in March: “One of the most appalling things that have caused this epidemic is the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

“Hence, I call on all governments to repeal this law immediately and without any hesitation.”

Al-Sadr has now turned his attention to the raising of the LGBT+ Pride flag by the EU delegation to Iraq in Baghdad to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT).

Iraqi leaders call queer people ‘psychotic’.

He was joined by Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Fatah Alliance, in calling the LGBT+ community “psychotic patients”.

Al-Sadr and al-Amiri, the two leaders of Iraq’s largest political parties, called for the Islamic flag to be raised at embassies across the UK, Canada and the EU the counter-protest the Pride flag in Baghdad.

Al-Amiri called for the expulsion of European ambassadors who organised the flag raising, and said: “What the European Union mission and British and Canadian embassies did in Baghdad with the gay flag is an outrageous and improper act that violates the customs, traditions and ethics of Iraqi society.”

LGBT+ Iraqis face persecution and deadly violence.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Iraq but discrimination is legal and widespread and LGBT+ people are frequently victims of violence, vigilante justice and honour killings.

Fariba Sahraei, senior editor of Iran International, said in a statement: “What we have witnessed with Muqtada al-Sadr and Hadi al-Amiri’s comments is the explicit promotion of homophobia and intolerance in Iraq, where the LGBT+ community is already repressed.

 “Similarly in Iran, the LGBT+ community can be killed simply for being who they are, and on the International Day Against Homophobia, this is deeply troubling.”