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Rainbow flags over Baghdad fan debate, spur fear

In what both progressive and conservative critics considered a tone-deaf step to support Iraq’s LGBTQ community, several Western embassies’ raising of the rainbow flag did not have its intended effects.
Gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei waves a rainbow flag during a rally to support the upcoming same-sex marriage referendum, in Taipei, Taiwan November 18, 2018. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu - RC1650EE2B70

The embassies of Canada and the United Kingdom and the offices of the World Bank and the European Union raised rainbow LGBTQ flags in Baghdad to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17. 

Though welcomed by liberals, the gesture prompted an online backlash, strenuous objections by Islamic parties and PMU militias and spurred fear among Iraq’s LGBTQ community. The fierce online commentary from conservatives forced the embassies to delete tweets that showed the colorful flag fluttering alongside the flags of the European Union, Canada and Iraq. 

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