Iraq’s official media regulator ordered all media and social media companies operating in the Arab state not to use the term “homosexuality” and instead to say “sexual deviance.” The Iraqi Communications and Media Commission (CMC) said in a statement that the use of the term “gender” was also banned. It prohibited all phone and internet companies licensed by it from using the terms in any of their mobile applications. A government spokesperson said a penalty for violating the rule had not yet been set but could include a fine. Iraq does not explicitly criminalize gay sex but loosely defined morality clauses in its penal code have been used to target members of the LGBTQ+ community. Major Iraqi parties have in the past two months stepped up criticism of LGBTQ+ rights, with rainbow flags frequently being burned in protests by Shi’ite Muslim factions opposed to recent Koran burnings in Sweden and Denmark. More than 60 countries criminalize gay sex, while same-sex sexual acts are legal in more than 130 countries. Anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric is prevalent in Iraq with the head of the nationalist Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, repeatedly making dangerous remarks about the queer community. He once tweeted that gay people were to blame for the pandemic and Mpox, which he referred to as “gay-pox”.