Transgenderism, same-sex acts criminalized in Iraq up to 15 years in prison


Published: 2024-04-29 16:14

Last Updated: 2024-06-16 17:23

Iraqis at an anti LGBTQ+ protest near the Swedish embassy in Baghdad, in response to the man who burned a copy of the Quran. (June 30, 2023) (Reuters)
Iraqis at an anti LGBTQ+ protest near the Swedish embassy in Baghdad, in response to the man who burned a copy of the Quran. (June 30, 2023) (Reuters)

The Iraqi Parliament passed a bill that criminalizes same-sex relationships and gender transition with imprisonment of up to 15 years, after the initial version had stipulated the death penalty.

The bill, which represents an amendment to the Prostitution Prevention Law of 1988, was adopted during a session attended by 170 out of 329 deputies, according to a statement issued by the Iraqi Parliament's media department.

The new provisions stipulate imprisonment ranging from 10 to 15 years for same-sex relationships, as well as for wife-swapping, according to the text seen by Agence France-Presse.

The law also prohibits "the activity of any organization promoting prostitution and homosexuality in Iraq," and punishes it up to seven years in prison.

Changing one’s biological sex based “on personal desires and inclinations” is also prohibited and penalized from one to three years in prison for both the individual who changed their sex and the doctor who performed the sex-change surgery.

A similar penalty is applied to any man deliberately engaging in effeminacy or promoting it.

In response, the United States expressed "deep concern" over the law.

"We are deeply concerned about the enactment of an amendment to the law combating prostitution and homosexuality in Iraq. This amendment threatens the most vulnerable segments of Iraqi society and undermines Iraq's ability to diversify its economy and attract foreign investments,” said Matthew Miller, the US State Department spokesperson, on his “X” account.

Iraqi member of the parliament Raed al-Maliki, who proposed the amendments, acknowledged that the vote, which was scheduled for mid-April, was postponed to avoid "impact" on Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi's visit to Washington - which took place on April 17.

This law is an “internal affair and we do not accept any interference from any party,” he said in response to criticism and rejection by the European Union and the United States.

"The (Iraqi) society's culture rejects (homosexuality), but there is promotion and deliberate promotion of cultures not recognized here, and therefore we fear for the future. This law is preventive, protecting society from such acts,” he added.

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