The Iraqi Foreign Ministry has said homosexuality goes against “the noble morals of all divine religions” and that all missions in Iraq had to “adhere to the laws of the country,” after foreign embassies flew the rainbow LGBT flag in honour of the International Day Against Homophobia.
The European Union, the World Bank and the Canadian and UK embassies all raised the flag on Sunday, commemorating the day when the World Health Organisation removed the designation of homosexuality as a mental illness.
Iraqi leaders from across the political spectrum issued condemnations and called for the expulsion of diplomats following the embassies’ actions.
The influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr condemned homosexuality as a “mental illness” and called for Iraqi embassies in European countries to raise the flags of Muhammad and Jesus in response.
Sadr had previously claimed that coronavirus pandemic was a punishment sent by God in response to LGBT marriage equality.
Hadi al-Ameri, leader of the Badr Organisation and the Fatah coalition bloc in parliament, called for the expulsion of diplomats.
Condemnations also came from spokespeople from the Islamic Dawa party and the Sairoun coalition.
Although homosexuality is not illegal in Iraq, it is against cultural norms as Islam prohibits the homosexual act and considers it a major sin.
A recent report, released by the group IraQueer, claimed that 96% of LGBT Iraqis have faced physical or verbal violence because of their sexuality or gender identity.
The study explained that the queer and trans community faces violence from armed groups, the government and families, friends and neighbours.
Amir Ashour, a spokesperson for IraQueer, told PinkNews: “The fact that 96% of LGBT+ individuals have experienced some form of abuse despite the fact that they are not out to their communities is outrageous and shows a dangerous level of rejection to non-normative people.”
The United Kingdom has a policy of promoting LGBT rights abroad. In a 2018 action plan the Equalities Office said “we will continue to defend and promote the rights of LGBT people globally.”
Specifically the UK government has pledged to:
- Support countries that want help to repeal laws discriminating against LGBT people.
- Promote LGBT rights through multilateral organisations, the private sector and international civil society organisations.
- Work through UK embassies, High Commissions and through international organisations, including the United Nations, European institution and the Commonwealth, to protect and promote LGBT rights and to address laws discriminating against LGBT people.
The government action plan stated: “We will provide funding to promote LGBT equality worldwide. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Magna Carta Fund for Human Rights and Democracy has committed £1.1 million to support LGBT rights projects worldwide in 2018 and 2019. The Government Equalities Office will provide match funding to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development work on reviewing LGBT inclusiveness.
“As part of the Department for International Development’s new funding mechanism – UK Aid Connect – and in recognition of the importance of global LGBT inclusion, the Department for International Development will provide up to £12 million over four years, from 2018 to 2022, for a consortium of organisations to work together to promote LGBT inclusion.”