The Iraqi government has reportedly ordered media companies to stop using the word ‘homosexuality’ and replace it with ‘sexual deviance’. With US influence in Iraq receding, traditional Islamic values are making a resurgence.
The National Communications and Media Commission of Iraq (NCMC) said on Tuesday that it “directs media organizations… not to use the term ‘homosexuality’ and to use the correct term ‘sexual deviance’,” Reuters reported.
The directive applies to news and entertainment media, as well as to internet and phone companies, which must ensure that their apps comply. The word ‘gender’ is also forbidden under the order, Reuters added.
A government spokesman said that a penalty for breaking the law has not yet been set, but may include a fine.
Iraq’s 1969 penal code did not explicitly criminalize homosexuality but offered no protections from extrajudicial harassment to gays and lesbians. An update to the law in the 1980s legalized the ‘honor killing’ of homosexuals by their family members, while a 1993 amendment to the constitution introduced the death penalty for homosexual acts.
After the US invaded Iraq in 2003, occupation governor Paul Brenner abolished the death penalty and rolled the country’s penal code back to its 1969 iteration. While no new anti-gay laws have been passed since, Western media outlets reported an uptick in attacks on homosexuals by police and militias after the partial withdrawal of American forces in 2012, despite the US State Department claiming in 2019 that it trained Iraqi security forces “on the proper observance of human rights.”
The NCMC that issued the directive was set up by the US occupation government in 2004.
Earlier this summer, protesters in Baghdad burned rainbow-colored ‘Pride’ flags in response to a spate of Quran burnings in Sweden and Denmark.