Iraq rainbow
< 1 min read

In a move that chills LGBTQ+ rights across the globe, the parliament of Iraq has criminalised same-sex relationships. This new law, passed on Saturday, throws the country’s LGBTQ+ community into a climate of fear and persecution.

The law, titled “The Law on Combating Prostitution and Homosexuality,” carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for same-sex relationships. It also criminalises advocating for LGBTQ+ rights or promoting “homosexuality or prostitution.”

Those who undergo gender reassignment surgery or express themselves in ways deemed “effeminate” face imprisonment of one to three years.


Human rights advocates are rightfully outraged. Rasha Younes, deputy director of the LGBT rights programme at Human Rights Watch, slammed the law as a “serious blow to fundamental human rights.”

Previously, Iraq didn’t explicitly criminalise same-sex relationships, but vague morality clauses were used to target LGBTQ+ people. This new law formalises and intensifies this discrimination.

The motivations behind this law are deeply concerning. Parliamentarians claim it protects “religious values” and shields society from “moral depravity.” This rhetoric erases the inherent dignity and humanity of LGBTQ+ Iraqis.

It’s also worth noting the political context. The law enjoys the backing of conservative Shi’ite Muslim parties, the dominant force in Iraqi politics. Last year, these same parties were seen burning rainbow flags – a symbolic act of hate towards the LGBTQ+ community.

While the death penalty initially proposed was scrapped due to international pressure, the new law remains a draconian step backward for Iraq.

The fight for LGBTQ+ rights is a global one, and this development in Iraq is a stark reminder that progress is not guaranteed.

Last Updated on Apr 29, 2024

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