Iraq criminalises same-sex relationships to up to 15 years in prison

Iraq’s parliament recently approved legislation criminalizing same-sex relationships, imposing a potential 15-year prison sentence.

The law, framed as safeguarding religious values, received criticism from rights advocates who view it as another assault on Iraq’s LGBTQ community.

The legislation, titled the Law on Combating Prostitution and Homosexuality, garnered support primarily from conservative Shia Muslim parties, the largest coalition in parliament.

Under the new law, engaging in same-sex relations could result in 10 to 15 years of imprisonment, with a minimum of seven years for those promoting homosexuality or prostitution.

Additionally, the legislation criminalizes gender-affirming surgery and penalizes transgender individuals and performing doctors with up to three years in prison.

Originally proposing the death penalty for same-sex acts, the bill was revised due to international opposition.

Previously, Iraq lacked explicit laws against homosexual activity, though vague morality clauses in the penal code had targeted LGBTQ individuals.

The passage of this law solidifies Iraq’s history of LGBTQ rights violations, sparking concerns from organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

Lawmaker Raed al-Maliki defended the legislation as a means of societal protection.

In the past year, major Iraqi parties intensified criticism of LGBTQ rights, often seen through protests where rainbow flags were burned.

Globally, over 60 countries criminalize gay sex, while over 130 countries recognize same-sex sexual acts as legal.

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