Iraq Implements Restrictions on LGBTQ-related Language in Media, Raising Concerns

The Iraqi Communications and Media Commission (CMC) has introduced guidelines that prohibit the use of LGBTQ-related terms and gender ideology in media. The CMC’s directives have been sent to national news outlets and social media companies, with the aim of banning words like “homosexuality” and “gender,” as stated in an official document.

Under the new rules, platforms are required to replace the term “homosexuality” with “sexual deviancy.” Sources citing the Arabic-language instructions reported that the CMC has instructed media organizations to refrain from using “homosexuality” and instead use the term “sexual deviance.”

While the decision is still pending final approval, a government spokesperson mentioned that the potential penalties for violating the guidelines, which may involve fines, have not been finalized.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa has expressed reservations about the ban, urging a reconsideration. She raised concerns that the CMC’s prohibition of the term “homosexuality” and its insistence on using “sexual deviance” could contribute to discrimination and potentially incite violence against LGBTQ+ individuals.

The ban on the term “gender” has also faced criticism for its potential to hinder efforts to combat gender-based violence, particularly at a time when there is a reported increase in crimes targeting women and girls.

Although homosexuality is not explicitly illegal under Iraqi law, the country’s moral codes allow for interpretations that could result in charges related to “public indecency.” Iraq has recently witnessed a surge in anti-LGBTQ sentiment, partly fueled by reactions to a Quran-burning incident in Sweden.

In response to this incident, followers of a prominent Iraqi Shiite cleric organized rallies in various cities within Iraq, condemning the Quran burning. During these gatherings, participants burned rainbow LGBTQ+ pride flags and chanted slogans supporting Islam while criticizing LGBTQ+ symbols.

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