Why is anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric on the rise in the Middle East?

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09/16/2023

From Lebanon to Iraq, politicians in the Middle East have stepped up their anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, raising concerns about an increase in homophobic violence and even tougher penalties for same-sex relations in the region. Most countries in the Middle East, with few exceptions such as Israel, Jordan and Bahrain, already ban gay sex and curtail the rights of transgender people. Several – Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen – retain the death penalty for same-sex relations, according to a 2020 report by the ILGA World LGBTQ+ advocacy group. But rights campaigners fear LGBTQ+ people’s limited freedoms in the region could be further restricted due to recent developments including proposals in Iraq to introduce the death penalty for gay sex and a crackdown on online discussion of LGBTQ+ matters in Jordan.

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