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Statements and speeches Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Comment by UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani on Iraq

29 April 2024



We are alarmed by the passing of a new law by Iraq’s parliament that criminalises consensual same-sex relations as well as other forms of private consensual behaviour with jail terms of up to 15 years. The law runs contrary to several human rights treaties and conventions ratified by Iraq, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and should be shelved.

The principles of equality and non-discrimination are at the heart of international human rights law. Everyone, without distinction, is entitled to enjoy all human rights, including the right to privacy, the right to be treated as equal before the law and the right to protection from discrimination on various grounds that include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Under the new law, those found guilty of “establishing a homosexual relationship” will face 10 to 15 years in jail, while anyone who “promotes homosexuality” will be imprisoned for at least seven years and fined at least 10 million Iraqi dinars. As well, the law criminalizes anyone accessing or performing gender-affirming medical treatments with imprisonment of up to three years, and those dressing in clothing associated with the opposite gender with jail terms of up to three years or a fine of at least 5 million Iraqi dinars.

There is extensive evidence that such laws also legitimize prejudice, expose people to hate crime, police abuse, harassment, intimidation, blackmail and torture. Furthermore, they perpetuate discrimination and denial of access to basic services, including in healthcare, education and housing.

For more information and media requests, please contact:

In Geneva
Ravina Shamdasani - + 41 22 917 9169 / [email protected] 
Jeremy Laurence - +41 22 917 9383 / [email protected] 
Marta Hurtado - + 41 22 917 9466 / [email protected]

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