Iraq: Gay People

House of Lords written question – answered on 21st April 2009.

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Photo of Lord Roberts of Llandudno Lord Roberts of Llandudno Spokesperson for International Development, Spokesperson for Wales

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with the Government of Iraq regarding the alleged execution of gay people in that country.

Photo of Lord Malloch-Brown Lord Malloch-Brown Minister of State, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Minister of State (Africa, Asia and the UN)

EU member states, including the UK, supported a demarche on 8 March 2009 by the Czech EU presidency to Iraqi vice President Tareez al-Hashemi and to the head of the Iraqi Prime Minister's office denouncing the death sentences of 117 individuals on death row. The understanding from our US colleagues is that these individuals have been sentenced for charges related to murder, terrorism, insurgency and kidnapping. The UK is opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances and works proactively with EU partners for its abolition around the world. Since autumn 2007 there have been no reports of any executions being carried out by the Government of Iraq. Our embassy in Baghdad has requested a call on the Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights and will seek to raise this issue with them.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office remains in contact with vulnerable groups and organisations such as the UK-based Iraqi lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group. We are aware of some media reports of violence committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation. Homosexuality is a culturally sensitive issue in Iraq, as in much of the Middle East. In Iraq, the legal position is unclear. The law appears to criminalise homosexual acts with individuals under the age of 18. We are seeking to clarify whether homosexuality is criminalised per se. The UK continues to press the Government of Iraq and members of the Iraqi council of representatives to protect all of Iraq's communities, regardless of faith, political persuasion and sexual orientation and to take tough action against those responsible for violence and intimidation.

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