The Iraqi Communications and Media Commission (CMC) on Tuesday banned the term “homosexuality,” instead requiring all media organizations and social media platforms to use “sexual deviance.”
CMC also banned the use of the word “gender.” The banned terms may not appear in any app or platform licensed to operate within Iraq.
A spokesman for the Iraqi government said on Tuesday that penalties for violating the ban have not been determined yet, but could include substantial fines. Another official said the bans on “homosexuality” and “gender” have yet to receive “final approval.”
Reuters noted that Iraq “does not explicitly criminalize gay sex,” but its legal code includes “morality clauses” that have been invoked to harass gay Iraqis.
Amnesty International (AI) immediately denounced the Iraqi media directive as “the latest in a series of attacks on freedom of expression under the guise of respect for ‘public morals.’”
AI argued that forcing Iraqi media to use “sexual deviance” instead of “homosexuality” is a “dangerous move that can fuel discrimination and violent attacks against members of the LGBTI community.”
The “I” in that acronym stands for “intersex,” which replaced “Q” for “queer” in the very recent past. The Iraqi Communications and Media Commission is not the only entity that presumes to dictate which terms people must use when discussing various sexual orientations.
AI also charged that banning the word “gender” demonstrates “callous disregard for combating gender-based violence at a time when civil society has been reporting an increase in crimes against women and girls.”
Hostility toward LGBTI causes in Iraq has grown in tandem with Muslim anger toward Qur’an burnings in Europe, a connection made plain by the tendency of Iraqi Shiite protesters to torch gay flags at their anti-Quran-burning rallies.
The demonstrators who stormed the Swedish embassy in Baghdad on June 29, for example, made a point of festooning the building with burning rainbow flags while they hoisted oversized photos of their spiritual leader, Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
Some Muslims have expressed particular anger that burning gay flags is considered a “hate crime” in European countries but burning the Quran is not.
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