Responding to the directive issued by the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission (CMC) that media outlets must replace the term “homosexuality” with “sexual deviance” in their published and broadcast language, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Aya Majzoub 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”. The CMC’s ban of the word “homosexuality” and insistence that 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 demonization of the word “gender” demonstrates a callous disregard for 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 that they respect the right to freedom of expression and non-discrimination for all individuals in the country, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.”
Political parties in Iraq have increasingly criticized LGBTI rights, frequently burning rainbow flags and making outlandish claims blaming homosexuality for the spread of disease.
Between January and June of this year, the Ministry of Interior led a campaign to crack down on “indecent content” online, prosecuting at least 20 individuals over the peaceful exercise of their right to freedom of expression using vague public morality laws. On 18 July Amnesty International raised concerns regarding the government’s re-introduction of two draft laws to Parliament which, if passed, would severely curtail the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Iraq.