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Iraq Passes Bill Criminalising Same-Sex Relations, Jail Upto 15 Years

“This is a domestic issue and we will not accept any interference in Iraq’s affairs.”

Iraq:

Iraq’s parliament on Saturday passed a bill criminalizing same-sex relationships, which human rights groups condemned as an “attack on human rights.”

Transgender people will be sentenced to three years in prison under the proposed amendments to the 1988 Anti-Prostitution Act, which was adopted by parliament with 170 out of 329 MPs present.

An earlier draft proposed the death penalty for same-sex relationships, which campaigners called a “dangerous” escalation.

In a country where gay and transgender people already face frequent attacks and discrimination, the new amendments would mean courts would impose 10 to 15 years in prison for people who enter into same-sex relationships, according to documents seen by AFP. can be sentenced to imprisonment.

It also set a minimum sentence of seven years for men who “facilitated” same-sex relationships, and one to three years for men who “intentionally” acted like women.

The revised law criminalizes “biological sex change based on an individual’s wishes or inclinations,” and punishes doctors who perform sex reassignment surgery on transgender people with up to three years in prison.

Homosexuality is taboo in Iraq’s conservative society, but until now there have been no laws explicitly punishing same-sex relationships.

Members of Iraq’s LGBTQ+ community have been charged with sodomy or under vague morality and anti-prostitution provisions in Iraq’s criminal code.

Razaw Salihi, Iraq researcher at Amnesty International, said: “Iraq has effectively codified into law discrimination and violence against which members of the LGBTI community have been subject for years with absolute impunity.”

“The amendments on LGBTI rights violate fundamental human rights and endanger Iraqis, whose lives are already threatened every day,” Salihi added.

The amendments would also ban organizations that “promote” homosexuality and make “wife swapping” punishable by 10 to 15 years in prison.

“This law serves as a preventive measure to protect society from such acts,” lawmaker Raed al-Maliki, who pushed for the amendment, told AFP.

He said passage of the new amendments had been postponed until after Iraqi Prime Minister Mohamed Shia al-Sudani’s visit to the United States earlier this month.

The United States and the European Union opposed the law, saying they “didn’t want it to affect the visit.”

“This is a domestic issue and we will not accept any interference in Iraq’s affairs.”

A 2022 report by Human Rights Watch and the nongovernmental organization Iraqia says LGBTQ+ Iraqis are forced into the shadows and are often subject to “kidnapping, rape, torture, and murder” with impunity. .

Iraqi politicians and social media users are increasingly relying on anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, stoking further fear among members of the community.

Sara Sambar, an Iraq researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the new law is “a horrifying development and an assault on human rights.”

“Instead of focusing on enacting laws that benefit Iraqis, such as passing a draft domestic violence law and a draft child protection law, Iraq is choosing to codify discrimination against LGBT people.” she said.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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