Iraqi Leaders Call For Expelling Diplomats Over Rainbow Flag Flown By Embassies On Day Against Homophobia

UK-based Muslim news outlet 5 Pillars reports:

The Iraqi Foreign Ministry has said homosexuality goes against “the noble morals of all divine religions” and that all missions in Iraq had to “adhere to the laws of the country,” after foreign embassies flew the rainbow LGBT flag in honour of the International Day Against Homophobia.

The European Union, the World Bank and the Canadian and UK embassies all raised the flag on Sunday, commemorating the day when the World Health Organisation removed the designation of homosexuality as a mental illness. Iraqi leaders from across the political spectrum issued condemnations and called for the expulsion of diplomats following the embassies’ actions.

The influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr condemned homosexuality as a “mental illness” and called for Iraqi embassies in European countries to raise the flags of Muhammad and Jesus in response. Sadr had previously claimed that coronavirus pandemic was a punishment sent by God in response to LGBT marriage equality.

Metro Weekly reports:

Ammar al-Hakim, a cleric and the leader of the Wisdom Party, another member of the country’s governing coalition, also decried the displaying the Pride flag. Deputy Speaker Bashir Haddad, of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the Religious Affairs Committee, and others issued similar condemnations, reports Kurdistan24.

The Islamic Dawa Party, one of the groups in the opposition bloc, issued a statement saying raising the Pride flag in the capital was especially offensive during Ramadan, when Iraqis are supposed to be “closer to God.”

The hashtag #No_To_LGBT_Flag_In_Iraq trended on Twitter, especially among supporters of Sadr, as did a graphic showing a rainbow flag being burned.

The Middle East Eye reports:

Amir Ashour, executive director of the IraQueer organisation, which pushes for LGBT rights in Iraq, told the Rudaw news network that the political leaders were wrong to brand homosexuality as alien to Iraq.

“We believe that diversity exists everywhere. The recognition of the LGBT+ community in Iraq, an important and valuable part of the society, is not a western export,” he said.

Rasan, a pro-LGBT human rights group based in the Kurdish region, also praised the move by the embassies to raise the flag. Some Iraqis also issued gestures of support on social media.