Home » State Department blasts new Iraq anti-homosexuality law as human rights threat

State Department blasts new Iraq anti-homosexuality law as human rights threat

by NBC News

The State Department said that a law passed by Iraq’s parliament on Saturday criminalizing same-sex relationships was a threat to human rights and freedoms and would weaken Iraq’s ability to diversify its economy and attract foreign investment.

“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,” a State Department statement released Saturday said.

Iraq’s parliament passed a law criminalizing same-sex relationships with a maximum 15-year prison sentence on Saturday, in a move it said aimed to uphold religious values. But it was condemned by rights advocates as the latest attack on the LGBTQ community in Iraq.

The law aims to “protect Iraqi society from moral depravity and the calls for homosexuality that have overtaken the world,” according to a copy of the law seen by Reuters.

It was backed mainly by conservative Shi’ite Muslim parties who form the largest coalition in mainly Muslim Iraq’s parliament.

The Law on Combating Prostitution and Homosexuality bans same-sex relations with at least 10 years and a maximum of 15 years in prison, and mandates at least seven years in prison for anybody who promotes homosexuality or prostitution.

It also imposes between one and three years in prison for anyone who changes their “biological gender” or willfully dresses in an effeminate manner.

The bill had initially included the death penalty for same-sex acts but was amended before being passed after strong opposition from the United States and European nations.

Until Saturday, Iraq didn’t explicitly criminalize gay sex, though loosely defined morality clauses in its penal code had been used to target LGBT people, and members of the community have also been killed by armed groups and individuals.

“The Iraqi parliament’s passage of the anti-LGBT law rubber-stamps Iraq’s appalling record of rights violations against LGBT people and is a serious…

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