Iraq Orders Media Companies To Replace “Homosexuality” With “Sexual Deviance”

Yuliah Alma

The Government of Iraq has decreed that all media and social media companies in the nation are forbidden from using the word “homosexuality,” and must instead replace the term with “sexual deviance” wherever it appears. While a penalty has not yet been determined, it could include a fine for using the word. 

On August 8, the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission (CMC) released a document which ordered media companies operating within the country to say “sexual deviance” as opposed to “homosexuality.” No phone or internet companies licensed by the government are permitted to use the word “homosexuality” in their mobile apps, nor are they allowed to use the term “gender.” 

The statement declared that the intention of the policy was to “protect society and its authentic values from extraneous terms that have become connotations contrary to public order and morals.” It also states it is aimed to prevent the terms from being spread on the internet and through apps and programs from licensed phone service agencies.

Amnesty International is pushing back against the CMC’s order, calling it a “dangerous move.” Aya Majzoub, Amnesty’s Middle East deputy director, said that banning the word was an attack on freedom of expression.

Majzoub said: “The directive from Iraq’s official media regulator is the latest in a series of attacks on freedom of expression under the guise of respect for ‘public morals.’ The CMC’s ban of the word ‘homosexuality’ and insistence that media use ‘sexual deviance’ instead is a dangerous move that can fuel discrimination and violent attacks against members of the LGBTI community.”

Before the official statement from the CMC, Aref Al-Hamami, member of Parliamentary Legal Committee, told the Iraqi News Agency on Augsut 4 that the parliament was legislating the prohibition of homosexuality in Iraq. Al-Hamami said the law would be reinforced with legal provisions “that prevent homosexuality and the perversions associated with it.”

Iraq does not currently have any laws criminalizing gay sex.

The leader of Iraq’s Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, proposed that the government introduce “special day against homosexuality.” Al-Sadr took to X (formerly Twitter) to call for “homosexuals” to repent. 

He wrote: ”There should be a special day against homosexuals and their reprehensible obscenity on earth and in heaven.”

The past two months in Iraq have witnessed a major increase in “criticism of LGBT rights,” including rainbow flag burnings in response to recent burnings of the Quran in Sweden and Denmark.

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