The Gag Order

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Iraq ordered all news organizations and social media platforms to stop using the term “homosexuality” and instead use “sexual deviancy,” a move that prompted concern among human rights groups over the treatment of LGBTQ individuals in the Middle Eastern country, CBS News reported Thursday.

The country’s Media and Communications Commission issued a decree banning the words “homosexuality,” “homosexual” and “gender,” noting that such terms hold undesirable connotations within Iraqi society.

The commission explained that the decision is aimed at protecting societal values and public order, adding that it plans on imposing a penalty for violating the decree, the Hill wrote.

Although Iraq does not explicitly criminalize homosexuality, its penal code has a provision that bans “immodest acts” in public that judicial authorities have used to prosecute people for same-sex acts.

Because of the legal ambiguity, Iraq’s LGBTQ community has faced discrimination, abuse, and deadly assaults: A report by Human Rights Watch in 2022 found various armed groups abducted, raped, tortured and killed lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, while the government did nothing.

LGBTQ issues in Muslim-majority nations are influenced by cultural and religious factors, with Islamic texts presented to condemn same-sex relationships. In seven nations, including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Mauritania, and the United Arab Emirates, homosexual acts are still punishable by death.

On Thursday, Malaysia – a Muslim-majority country – banned all Swatch products with LGBTQ-related designs and threatened jail terms of up to three years for anyone wearing them, according to the Associated Press.

The Malaysian government’s decision came months after authorities raided the Swiss watchmaker’s stores in the country and confiscated more than 160 watches from its Pride Collection – some of which featured rainbow colors. The Home Ministry said the products promote the LGBTQ movement and are unacceptable to the public.

Same-sex relationships are illegal in Malaysia, with punishments ranging from caning to 20 years in prison for sodomy.

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