Iraq’s official media regulator ordered all media and social media companies operating in the Arab state on Tuesday to stop using the term “homosexuality” and instead use the term “sexual deviance,” according to a government spokesperson and a document from the regulator.
According to the Iraqi Communications and Media Commission (CMC) document, the term “gender” is also prohibited. It barred all phone and internet service providers licensed by it from using the terms in their mobile applications.
Later, a government official stated that the decision still needed final approval.
According to the Arabic-language statement, the regulator “directs media organizations… not to use the term ‘homosexuality’ and to use the correct term’sexual deviance.'”
According to a government spokesperson, the penalty for breaking the rule has not yet been determined but could include a fine.
Although Iraq does not explicitly criminalize gay sex, members of the LGBT community have been targeted using loosely defined morality clauses in its penal code.
In the last two months, major Iraqi parties have increased their criticism of LGBT rights, with rainbow flags frequently being burned in protests by Shi’ite Muslim factions opposed to recent Koran burnings in Sweden and Denmark.
According to Our World in Data, more than 60 countries criminalize gay sex, while more than 130 countries legalize same-sex sexual acts.