In a recent move, Iraq’s official media regulator has mandated a change in language when discussing matters related to sexual identity. The Iraq Communications and Media Commission (CMC) issued a directive to media and social media entities within the country, instructing them to replace the term “homosexuality” with “sexual deviance.” The regulatory document, which also prohibits the use of the term “gender,” extends its restrictions to mobile applications developed by phone and internet companies under the CMC’s purview.
While the decision awaits final approval, the regulator’s statement in Arabic explicitly calls for media organizations to adopt the term “sexual deviance” instead of “homosexuality.” The penalty for contravening this directive has not been finalized but could involve financial penalties. It is noteworthy that Iraq does not explicitly criminalize homosexual relationships. However, the vagueness of moral clauses in its penal code has in the past enabled the targeting of individuals from the LGBT community.
Notably, this recent development reflects a broader intensification of scrutiny on LGBT rights by major Iraqi parties. Over the past couple of months, these groups have escalated their criticism, often using protests to express their opposition. Demonstrations have seen the burning of rainbow flags, particularly by Shi’ite Muslim factions. These actions are aligned with their protest against perceived offenses like recent Koran burnings in Sweden and Denmark.
This move by Iraq joins a global conversation about the legal and social treatment of homosexuality. While more than 130 countries have decriminalized same-sex sexual acts, over 60 nations still consider them illegal. This contrasting landscape underscores the ongoing struggle for LGBT rights and recognition on an international scale.