Iraq: Authorities must urgently repeal new law criminalizing same-sex relations 

The Iraqi authorities’ passing of a law that penalizes same-sex relations with up to 15 years in prison is yet another blow to the LGBTI community in the country, said Amnesty International today.

Responding to the news the organization’s Iraq Researcher, Razaw Salihy said:

“LGBTI individuals in Iraq endure relentless intimidation and violence at the hands of armed actors who operate with absolute impunity hounding, maiming and killing people based on their real or perceived sexual orientation openly.

“The latest amendments are an assault on human rights and represent an alarming escalation in the authorities’ campaign to tighten control over freedoms.

“The Iraqi authorities must immediately overturn this law and ensure that they respect the right to freedom of expression and non-discrimination for all individuals in the country, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.”


In recent years political factions in Iraq, especially those linked to state-affiliated militias, have intensified their condemnation of LGBTI rights, often resorting to the act of burning rainbow flags and propagating outlandish allegations linking homosexuality to the spread of diseases.

In August 2023, Iraq’s Communications and Media Commission (CMC) mandated that media platforms substitute the term “homosexuality” with “sexual deviance” in their published and broadcast content. An initial draft of the amendments passed on 27 April 2024 included death penalty as punishment for homosexuality. The law further criminalises loosely defined acts setting lengthy prison terms for “promoting” same-sex relations, for men who “intentionally” act “effeminate” and for “adultery with more than one person”.