Amendment 'threatens those most at risk'

International dismay from Iraq allies at new anti-LGBTQ+ bill

BAGHDAD — The international community has expressed profound concern following Iraq’s recent enactment of legislation that criminalizes same-sex relationships, with penalties including severe prison sentences. This move has been met with dismay from numerous countries and organizations, who argue it threatens fundamental human rights.

The United States and the Netherlands have been particularly vocal in their opposition. The U.S. Department of State released a statement citing deep concerns over the impact of the new law on Iraq’s societal and economic fabric. “This amendment threatens those most at risk in Iraqi society,” stated Matthew Miller, Department Spokesperson. He emphasized the law’s potential to hamper free speech and expression and deter international business investments in Iraq.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, Alina Romanowski, also commented on the law’s implications. “This action threatens those most at risk in Iraqi society,” Romanowski said, adding that the legislation “can be used to further hamper free-speech and personal expression and inhibit the operations of NGOs across Iraq.”

The bill affords a very wide scope for cracking down on what it calls “support of any kind” to LGBTQ+ causes.

She highlighted the law’s potential to weaken Iraq’s efforts to diversify its economy and attract foreign investment, noting that respect for human rights is crucial for Iraq’s security, stability, and prosperity.

Similarly, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs lamented the legislative action, stating it “goes directly against international agreements that Iraq has agreed to.” The ministry highlighted the importance of protecting minority rights as essential to Iraq’s stability.

British Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron tweeted: “Amendments to Iraq’s Anti – Prostitution Law which criminalises LGBT people are dangerous and worrying. No one should be targeted for who they are. We encourage the Government of Iraq to uphold human rights and freedoms of all people without distinction.

A report by the Open For Business coalition, comprising global companies across multiple sectors, criticized the amendments to Iraq’s Anti-Prostitution Law, which will now also target homosexual acts. The coalition argued that such policies could severely hinder Iraq’s economic prospects by undermining international investment confidence and stalling efforts to diversify the economy away from its heavy reliance on oil.

The coalition’s analysis suggests that discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community could cost state economies significantly, potentially running into billions of dollars annually due to reduced economic competitiveness and diversification. “countries that do not criminalize consensual same-sex relations attract 4.5 times more foreign investment on average than countries that do,” the report noted, emphasizing the economic benefits of inclusive policies. Though there are many other factors beyond LGBTQ+ rights in those countries that could contribute to higher foreign direct investment.

This article has been amended to add quotes by Lord Cameron