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Rights watchdog slams Iraq’s anti-LGBTQ bill

An amendment in the Iraqi parliament would make same-sex activity punishable by death. One Iraqi militia leader recently accused the US of “spreading homosexuality” in the country, and anti-LGBTQ sentiment is rising in the region.
Iraq lgbtq

A leading international rights watchdog called on Iraq on Wednesday to withdraw a law targeting same-sex relationships and transgender people amid rising anti-LGBTQ sentiment in the region.

“Iraq’s proposed anti-LGBT law would threaten the lives of Iraqis already facing a hostile environment for LGBT people,” said Human Rights Watch researcher Rasha Younes in a press release. “Iraqi lawmakers are sending an appalling message to LGBT people that their speech is criminal and their lives are expendable.”

Background: Independent  Iraqi parliament member Raad Al-Maliki proposed an amendment last week to a 1988 law against prostitution. The amendment would explicitly make same-sex relations and transgender expression a criminal offense. If passed, it would punish same-sex relations with the death penalty or life in prison. The legislation would also punish “promoting homosexuality” with a minimum seven years in prison, and criminalize “imitating women” with up to a three-year sentence, according to Human Rights Watch.

Agence France-Presse reported on Tuesday that the amendment was still under discussion and a second reading has yet to be scheduled. A first reading passed last week. The change “appears to have broad support” in the parliament, including among Islamists, according to AFP.

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