Iraq bid to ban homosexuality will ‘let government get away with murder’

Iraq’s government has announced plans to outlaw homosexuality, sparking anger and fear in the Iraqi LGBTQ+ community.

On 8 July, the Iraqi parliament began the process of collecting signatures to pass a law that will make homosexuality illegal once again.

Iraq made homosexuality legal after Saddam Hussein was removed from power in 2003, however there are items in the Penal Code that allow lawmakers to target LGBTQ+ citizens.

Now, politicians want to double down on that by explicitly outlawing homosexuality.

Aref al-Hamami, an MP from the State of Law Coalition, told Iraqi News Agency: “It was agreed within the House of Representatives to collect signatures after returning to session to legislate a law prohibiting homosexuality in Iraq.

“Legislation of such a law will be reinforced by legal provisions that prevent homosexuality and the perversions associated with.”

This announcement was met with anxiety from Iraqi LGBTQ+ community members whose safety is already under threat in the country.

According to The New Arab, queer Iraqis face beatings, torture and in some cases murder just for being who they are.

A report from Human Rights Watch found that attacks on many LGBTQ+ people in Iraq were committed by police, government security forces and state-sponsored armed groups dedicated to hunting down and attacking them.

The organisation called for the government to “end torture, disappearances, summary killings, and other abuses based on sexual orientation” however, it seems that is not a priority for them.

Activist and founder of rights group IraQueer, Amir Ashour, posted a thread describing the disturbing ramifications the anti-LGBTQ+ law would enable.

While LGBT+ Iraqis have been the target of systematic killing campaigns and things are as bad as it gets, this law will allow the government to ‘legally’ get away with murder putting LGBT+ citizens and those advocating for us in greater danger,” he wrote. 

This law will be a death sentence to the LGBT+ movement in Iraq. A movement that young advocates and organizations like IraQueer have worked on building for 8 years, risking our lives and the lives of our loved ones.”

Progressive parties in the country have vowed to fight the move, but it’s uncertain if their proposed support will be enough.

In an interview with The New Arab, secretary-general of the October 25 Movement Tallal Alhariri said: “Our party affirms its total rejection of this extremist proposal, which threatens the lives of more than 360,000 citizens and gives terrorism legitimacy to suppress human rights and confiscate the freedoms stipulated in the Iraqi constitution.”

“We will always support the freedom of the LGBTQ+ community as much as we support all freedoms,” he added.

Anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric is widely prevalent in Iraq, especially because Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr, an influential leader, repeatedly makes dangerous remarks about the queer community.

Earlier this year, Sadr even tweeted that gay people were to blame for the pandemic and monkeypox, which he referred to as “gay-pox”.

Sadr didn’t stop there – he dug an even deeper queerphobic hole stating that there should be a day dedicated to homosexuality and “their reprehensible obscenity in the earth and the sky”, as reported by Takadum News.