In a significant development, Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) has issued a directive to all media and social media entities operating within the country, instructing them to avoid using the term “homosexuality.” Instead, they are advised to use the term “sexual deviance,” according to a Reuters report.
The CMC’s statement also revealed that the use of the term “gender” has been banned as well. The regulator’s statement in Arabic emphasized its stance, stating that media organizations should refrain from using the term “homosexuality” and instead use the term “sexual deviance.”
While a penalty for violating this directive has not yet been specified, it could potentially involve fines. The move by Iraq’s media regulator is raising concerns about LGBTQ rights and freedom of expression in the country.
It’s important to note that Iraq does not explicitly criminalize homosexual acts. However, loosely defined morality clauses in the country’s penal code have been used to target members of the LGBTQ community. Recently, there has been a notable increase in criticism of LGBTQ rights by major Iraqi political parties. Rainbow flags have been burned in protests by Shi’ite Muslim factions, particularly in response to Koran burnings in Sweden and Denmark.
This trend is not isolated to Iraq. Kuwait, another country in the region, recently banned a horror film titled “Talk to Me,” which features a transgender actor. The film, currently being screened in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, does not have explicit LGBTQ references in its scenes.
Gulf Arab states, including Kuwait, the UAE, and Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is outlawed, routinely censor films that include LGBTQ references. For example, a recent ban was placed on the latest Spider-Man animation reportedly due to a scene featuring a transgender pride flag.
Globally, more than 60 countries criminalize gay sex, while same-sex sexual acts are legal in over 130 countries, as indicated by data from Our World in Data. The recent actions in Iraq and Kuwait underscore ongoing challenges and debates surrounding LGBTQ rights, censorship, and freedom of expression in various parts of the world.