Iraq Enforces New Media Regulations on Terms Related to Sexuality

The Iraqi Communications and Media Commission (CMC) has recently issued a new rule that is receiving a lot of focus both domestically and internationally. As per this rule, all media outlets and social media platforms operating in Iraq are prohibited from using the term “homosexuality”. The CMC insists on replacing it with the phrase “sexual deviance”. In addition to this, the new order also bars the use of the word “gender”. This step is believed to profoundly affect Iraq’s media scene, especially in talks dealing with sexuality and gender.

Regulation Details

  • The ban affects all media and social media companies functioning within Iraq.
  • Companies licensed by the CMC, including phone and internet entities, are prohibited from featuring the banned terms in their applications.
  • While no specific penalty has been decided for violations, government representatives suggest that fines could be imposed.

Motivation Behind the Ban

The CMC announced that their choice was made to protect community morals and maintain peace. As per different state and private news sources in Iraq, words such as “homosexuality”, “homosexual”, and “gender” carry a negative undertone in the social environment of Iraq. Even though these decisions appear to be managerial, they often mirror wider societal beliefs and values, especially in places where cultural and religious emotions hold a significant place.

Content: Surprisingly, Iraq’s national laws don’t directly say that being homosexual is a crime. But, it’s common to see laws about “public morals” being used to punish people for same-sex acts. This unclear situation has caused unfair treatment, harm, and even deadly attacks on the LGBTQ community in the country.

Larger Context: LGBTQ Rights in Muslim-majority Nations

How people in Arab countries and other mostly Muslim nations feel about those in the LGBTQ community is shaped both by their cultural traditions and their faith. Important Islamic texts like the Quran and hadiths are clear in their disapproval of relationships between people of the same sex. Some hadiths even recommend capital punishment for public displays of homosexual behavior. Several Muslim-majority nations have consistently resisted initiatives to promote LGBTQ rights on the global stage. For instance, at the United Nations, a coalition of 57 member states, predominantly Muslim-majority, cosponsored a statement opposing LGBTQ rights. In a 2016 U.N. assembly on AIDS, 51 Muslim-majority nations barred 11 LGBTQ advocacy organizations from participating.

Varied Punishments Across Countries

  • In nations such as Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Mauritania, and the United Arab Emirates, doing things that are seen as homosexual can result in the death penalty.
  • After the Taliban gained power in 2021, Afghanistan brought back the death sentence for acts related to same-sex practice.
  • In places where being gay is allowed by law the likes of Jordan, places that are popular with LGBTQ people often face unfriendly actions and their customers might experience violent treatment.

Global Overview

Worldwide, the struggle for LGBTQ rights continues to be a divisive issue. Our World in Data highlights that over 60 nations still criminalize gay sex. Conversely, more than 130 countries have decriminalized same-sex acts. As nations grapple with the balance between traditional values and human rights, such regulatory decisions are indicative of larger societal debates.


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