Iraq: Authorities must immediately reverse media ban on the terms ‘homosexuality’ and ‘gender’
Move is latest in attacks on freedom of expression
Dangerous step could fuel discrimination and violence
‘The Iraqi authorities must immediately overturn this decision and ensure they respect the right to freedom of expression’ - Aya Majzoub
Responding to the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission’s directive that media outlets must replace the term “homosexuality” with “sexual deviance”, Aya Majzoub, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said:
“The directive from Iraq’s official media regulator is the latest in a series of attacks on freedom of expression under the guise of respect for ‘public morals’.
“Banning the word ‘homosexuality’ and insisting that media, including social media, use ‘sexual deviance’ instead is a dangerous move that can fuel discrimination and violent attacks against members of the LGBTI community.
“Furthermore, its ban and demonisation of the word ‘gender’ demonstrates a callous lack of interest in combatting gender-based violence at a time when civil society has been reporting an increase in crimes against women and girls amid widespread impunity.
“The Iraqi authorities must immediately overturn this decision and ensure they respect the right to freedom of expression and non-discrimination for everyone in the country, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.”
Rise in anti-LGBTI action
Political parties in Iraq have increasingly criticised LGBTI rights, frequently burning rainbow flags and making harmful claims blaming homosexuality for the spread of disease. Between January and June the Ministry of Interior led a campaign to crackdown on “indecent content” online, prosecuting at least 20 people over the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression.
Amnesty raised concerns on 18 July regarding the Government’s reintroduction of two draft laws in Parliament, which if passed would severely limit rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Iraq.