Iraq Amends Law against Prostitution and Homosexuality, US Concerned over Freedoms

Laith, a 27-year-old homosexual Iraqi man living in Baghdad, told Human Rights Watch HRW in 2022 that he saw a group of gunmen kidnap his partner from his home and torture him to death. HRW

"There is no place for homosexuals in the Iraq land the Prophets," Iraqi parliament speaker Mohsen Mandalawi said after the passage of the first amendment to the law against prostitution and homosexuality, stressing that the amendment is "important" to protect society's values.

The Iraqi parliament on Saturday approved an amendment to Law No. 8 of 1988, which imposes severe imprisonment and financial penalties on those who work as prostitutes or have homosexual relationships. It also includes penalties for those who "attempt to promote homosexuality" by any means, up to the confiscation of the communication means.

Details of penalties

According to the amendment, anyone who forces and uses another person for prostitution and homosexuality by deception, or by force and threat, is punishable by imprisonment up to 10 years, if the victim is over 18 years old. However, if the victim is under 18, he or she is punishable by imprisonment for not more than 15 years.

"The court must decide to compensate the victims," ​​it Adds.

According to the amendment, anyone who has a homosexual relationship is punishable by 10 to 15 years in prison.

In another article, the punishment for those who promote prostitution and homosexuality through any means of communication and dissemination, the punishment is imprisonment for not less than seven years, and a fine of not less than 10 million Iraqi dinars IQD (USD7,000) and not more than 15 million IQD with the seizure of the tool used for propaganda.


A woman in Circle Street tells the story of her life and working as a prostitute to KirkukNow reporter, Kirkuk, 2022. KirkukNow

In another article, the amendment states that any male who deliberately behaves or advocates feminine behavior is punishable by imprisonment for not less than one year and not more than three years, or a fine of five to ten million IQD.

In Arabic, the term is also used for ladyboy (Shemale), but in the law, experts say, it refers to people whose gender is determined to be male, but who "deliberately" behave like women.

The draft was passed as it was, except for the death penalty, which was unanimously removed

Those who undergo transgender or enter the process are punishable by imprisonment for not less than one year and not more than three years, and the same punishment applies to physicians who perform the surgery.

Sabah Habib, a member of the Iraqi parliament, told KirkukNow that the draft was approved as it was, except for the death penalty, which was unanimously removed ".

“From now on, the government must implement this law,” Habib confirmed.

Why was the amendment restored after withdrawal?

The law was withdrawn by the then-speaker of the Iraqi parliament on September 10, 2023, after being submitted to the parliament for approval.

The withdrawal of the amendment bill provoked protests from some factions in parliament and MPs. Hence, an MP filed a complaint against the speaker of the Iraqi parliament in the Federal Court.

perlaman. Iraq
A session of the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad. Media Office of Iraqhi House of Representatives

On December 9, 2014, the Federal Court ruled that the withdrawal of the amendment was illegal. It was returned to parliament and put on the agenda until April 27, in a session attended by 170 out of 329 members.

According to the website of the Iraqi parliament, the amendment was submitted to parliament for approval with the signatures of 150 MPs.

"The adoption of this amendment was important to protect the infrastructure of society's values, in the highest interests and to protect our sons from the propaganda and attempts to homosexuality that is conquering the world," Mandalawi said in a statement.

"The law has become a legal barrier to reject these acts and those who advocate them," he added. "The amendment has also solved the gap in the applicable laws to combat these acts.”

"In the Iraq of the Prophets, the Holy Nation and Righteous Leader, there is no place for homosexuals," Mandalawi said.

The Iraqi parliament said in a statement that God created human beings only of both sexes, the law is to protect Iraqi society from the collapse of morality and homosexuality, which currently occupies the world.

"The adoption of this amendment coincides with the absence of penalties in applicable Iraqi laws to prevent homosexual behavior.”

A few hours following the Iraqi parliament statement, the US State Department said it was deeply concerned by the passage of the amendment to the officially called the Anti-Prostitution and Homosexuality Law, “which threatens constitutionally protected human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

“The law bans same-sex relations with steep fines and imprisonment and punishes those who promote homosexuality. Limiting the rights of certain individuals in a society undermines the rights of all,” the statement said.

The statement department declared such a law might be used to hamper freedom of speech and expression and limit the scope of activities by non-governmental organizations.

“This amendment threatens those most at risk in Iraqi society. It can be used to hamper free speech and expression and inhibit the operations of NGOs across Iraq. The legislation also weakens Iraq’s ability to diversify its economy and attract foreign investment. International business coalitions have already indicated that such discrimination in Iraq will harm business and economic growth in the country.”

“Respect for human rights and political and economic inclusion is essential for Iraq’s security, stability, and prosperity. This legislation is inconsistent with these values and undermines the government’s political and economic reform efforts,” the statement concluded.

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