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Iraq Enforces Restrictions on LGBT-related Terms in Media, Prompting Concerns

The Iraqi Communications and Media Commission (CMC) has introduced guidelines that prohibit the use of terms related to LGBTQ groups and gender ideology in media. The CMC’s directives have been issued to national news outlets and social media companies, aiming to ban words such as “homosexuality” and “gender,” as outlined in an official document.

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As per the newly established rules, platforms are required to substitute the term “homosexuality” with “sexual deviancy.”

The CMC has directed media organizations to avoid the usage of “homosexuality” and to instead adopt the term “sexual deviance,” as reported in sources referring to the Arabic-language instructions.

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Although the decision is pending final approval, a government spokesperson acknowledged that potential penalties for violating the guidelines, which may involve fines, have not been formalized.

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

The ban on the term “gender” has also attracted criticism due to its potential to obstruct efforts against gender-based violence, particularly at a time when reports indicate a rise in crimes targeting women and girls.

While homosexuality is not explicitly criminalized by Iraqi law, the country’s moral codes allow for interpretations that could lead to charges related to “public indecency.” Iraq has recently witnessed an increase 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, denouncing the Quran burning. During these gatherings, participants burned rainbow LGBTQ+ pride flags and chanted slogans endorsing Islam while criticizing LGBTQ+ symbols.

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