The Iraqi Communications and Media Commission (CMC) has issued a directive to all media and social media companies operating in Iraq, instructing them not to use the term “homosexuality“ and instead use the phrase “sexual deviance.“ The CMC document also stated that the use of the term “gender“ was banned. This directive extends to phone and internet companies licensed by the CMC, prohibiting them from using these terms in their mobile applications.
While the decision still requires final approval, a government spokesperson confirmed the directive. The regulator has not yet determined the penalty for violating the rule, but it could potentially include a fine.
Iraq does not explicitly criminalize gay sex, but certain morality clauses in its penal code have been used to target persons identifying as LGBT. In recent months, Iraqi political parties have intensified criticism of so-called LGBTQ+ rights, with rainbow flags being burned in protests by Shi’ite Muslim factions opposed to Koran burnings in Sweden and Denmark.
It is worth noting that more than 60 countries worldwide criminalize gay sex, while same-sex sexual acts are legal in over 130 countries, according to Our World in Data.