Iraq Bans Term ‘Homosexual’ on Media, Advocates ‘Sexual Deviancy’ Instead

Iraq’s Media and Communications Commission has issued a directive that calls for media and social media platforms within the country to avoid using the terms “homosexual” or “homosexuality.” Instead, the commission advises the use of the phrase “sexual deviancy.” The decision, motivated by a desire to uphold societal values and maintain public order, comes amid concerns that the terms “homosexuality” and “homosexual” carry unfavorable connotations within Iraqi society. While the directive doesn’t currently stipulate penalties for non-compliance, potential fines have been suggested by government representatives. Although Iraq’s national penal code does not explicitly criminalize homosexuality, legal authorities frequently rely on provisions related to “public morals” to prosecute same-sex acts, leading to discrimination, abuse, and violence against LGBTQ individuals.

The move reflects broader attitudes across the Arab world, where the perception of LGBTQ individuals is influenced by a blend of cultural and religious factors. Islamic teachings, including both the Quran and hadiths (attributed quotes of the Prophet Muhammad), condemn same-sex relationships. Some of these texts even advocate for the death penalty in cases of public engagement in homosexual activities. This conservative stance is reflected in the resistance of many Muslim-majority nations to LGBTQ rights advancements, including opposition to global initiatives at the United Nations. In certain countries such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Mauritania, and the United Arab Emirates, homosexual acts remain punishable by death. While homosexuality is legal in some predominantly Muslim countries, such as Jordan, LGBTQ venues often face hostility, leading to closures and violence against patrons.

In an effort to safeguard societal values and public order, Iraq’s Media and Communications Commission has directed media and social platforms to replace the terms “homosexual” and “homosexuality” with the phrase “sexual deviancy.” The decision, though lacking specific penalties, has drawn attention due to concerns that the former terms hold undesirable connotations within Iraqi society. This comes as the country’s legal system indirectly addresses same-sex acts through laws related to “public morals,” resulting in discrimination and violence against LGBTQ individuals. Similar viewpoints persist across the Arab world, where Islamic teachings denounce same-sex relationships. The resistance to LGBTQ rights extends internationally, with many Muslim-majority nations opposing such initiatives at the United Nations and advocating conservative stances in legal codes. In several countries, homosexual acts can still incur the death penalty, reflecting the ongoing challenges faced by LGBTQ communities in various parts of the world.

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