In a massive blow to LGBTQ+ rights, the Iraq government has taken steps to criminalise homosexuality. According to reports, the country’s Parliamentary Legal Committee met on 8 July to create proposals targeting the LGBTQ+ community.

In an interview with the Iraqi News Agency, State of Law coalition MP Aref al-Hamami confirmed the horrifying news. “It was agreed within the parliament to collect signatures after returning to session to legislate a law prohibiting homosexuality in Iraq,” he said, as reported by Middle East Eye. “[The] legislation of such a law will be reinforced by legal provisions that prevent homosexuality and the perversions associated with it.” In a statement to GAY TIMES, Amir Ashour, head of the LGBTQ+ group IraQueer, opened up about the serious implications of the proposed law. “The Iraqi government is using their hatred for LGBT+ people to distract the public from their failure to form a government, provide basic services, and hold perpetrators accountable for different human rights violations,” he said. “The international community must put pressure on Iraq immediately.

The lives of LGBT+ people and the future of the queer movement is on the line.” While homosexuality is currently legal in the country, LGBTQ+ citizens have faced abuse over the years – including torture, kidnapping, physical assaults and even death – from families and conservative groups.