Trans blogger ‘Simsim’ killed in Iraq by knife-wielding assailants 

Homophobic protestors in Iraq burn pictures of the LGBTQ+ Pride flag.

A trans blogger, known as “Simsim”, has been killed in the Al-Qadisiyah governorate of Iraq, a security source has said.

The blogger was killed by unknown assailants, the source told Iraqi publication Shafaq News. The 28-year-old victim was stabbed several times, near the mural roundabout in the centre of the city of Diwaniyah.

According to the unnamed source, “the killers escaped to an unidentified location, and the forensic team took the body to complete the legal formalities”.

Simsim’s death follows a series of attacks on transgender individuals in the Middle Eastern country. Last year, prominent Iraqi TikTok star Noor Alsaffar, known Noor Bm on the app, was shot dead in the capital, Baghdad. He had faced repeated questions about his gender and sexuality, and his death was treated as a “criminal incident”. 

Iraq is clamping down on LGBTQ+ rights.
An Iraqi TikTok star was been shot and killed amid the country’s clamp down on LGBTQ+ rights. (Getty Images)

In an interview with Iraq’s Al Walaa channel in 2020, Alsaffar, who worked as a makeup artist, spoke candidly about the threats he faced regularly because of his appearance. “I’m not transgender and I’m not gay. I don’t have other tendencies, I’m only a cross-dresser and a model,” he said.

The incident followed Iraq clamping down on LGBTQ+ conduct and the rise of anti-queer violence across the country. Proposed amendments to the “Law on Combatting Prostitution” at the time sought to make same-sex relations a criminal offence – punishable by either the death penalty or life in prison.

You may like to watch

Technically, same-sex sexual activity is legal and there is an equal age of consent. However, there are no laws to protect LGBTQ+ people from discrimination, neither same-sex marriages nor relationships are recognised and there is no legal right to change gender. Freedom of expression is also squashed.

A 2017-2022 World Values Survey found that just two per cent of Iraq citizens believe homosexuality to be justifiable, while 55 per cent find it unjustifiable.

Meanwhile, the community-based LGBTQ+ rights index Equaldex found Iraq to be one of the most homophobic countries in the world, coming 154th out of 197.