Iraq: Scrap Anti-LGBT Bill

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08/22/2023

The Iraqi government should immediately withdraw a proposed law currently before parliament that would impose the death penalty for same-sex conduct and imprisonment for transgender expression, Human Rights Watch said today. If adopted, the bill would violate fundamental human rights, including the rights to freedom of expression, association, privacy, equality, and nondiscrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBT) in Iraq. On August 15, 2023, Raad Al-Maliki, an independent member of parliament, introduced a bill that would amend the “Law on Combatting Prostitution,” No. 8 of 1988, to explicitly make same-sex relations and transgender expression a criminal offense. If passed, the bill would punish same-sex relations with the death penalty or life in prison, punish “promoting homosexuality” with a minimum seven years in prison and a fine, and criminalize “imitating women” with up to a three-year sentence. In introducing the bill, Al-Maliki said its purpose was to “preserve the entity of the Iraqi society from deviation and calls for ‘paraphilia’ [abnormal sexual impulses] that have invaded the world.” “Iraq’s proposed anti-LGBT law would threaten the lives of Iraqis already facing a hostile environment for LGBT people,” said Rasha Younes, senior LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Iraqi lawmakers are sending an appalling message to LGBT people that their speech is criminal and their lives are expendable.”

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