Iraq wants to ban the use of the word “homosexual” in the media, instead it will have to say “sexual deviation”. By decision of the local regulator, the word “gender” is also to be banned. This ban is currently awaiting formal approval by the government in Baghdad.
Communications and Media Committee Iraq (CMC) issued a decision on Tuesday to all media in the country not to use the term “homosexuality” and to use the term “sexual deviation” instead. In addition, the use of the word “gender”, denoting cultural gender, was banned.
The new ban applies not only to all media in the country, but also to social media companies. CMC says the decision was made to protect social values and public order. The prohibited terms would have undesirable connotations in Iraqi society. The issued document did not include any penalties for breaking the ban.
Ban on the word “homosexuality”
A spokesman for the government in Baghdad said the new bans had not yet entered into force and the CMC’s decision had yet to be approved by central authorities. According to him, the penalties for breaking the new ban have not yet been determined, but there will probably be a fine for doing so.
Defense organizations reacted strongly to the decision of the Iraqi regulator human rights, among others Amnesty International. AI described it as “the latest in a series of attacks on free speech under the guise of respecting ‘public morals’.” Aya Majzoub, the organization’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said it was “a dangerous move that could fuel discrimination and violent attacks against members of the community.” LGBTThe ban on the use of the term “gender” in turn, according to her, shows “disregard for the fight against gender-based violence”, while crimes against women and girls are on the rise in the country and the perpetrators remain unpunished.
Homosexuality in Iraq
Homosexual relationships are not considered a crime in Iraq, but the insufficiently precise morality clauses in the state’s penal code have repeatedly been used to target the LGBT community. Over the past two months, the country’s major parties have stepped up their criticism of LGBT rights. There were also e.g. protests during which rainbow flags were burned.
Main photo source: Shutterstock