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Iraq — Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP
Iraq — Ahmad Al-Rubaye / AFP

Iraq: International groups condemn new anti-Queer law
Human rights groups and diplomats have criticized a law passed by the Iraqi parliament on April 27 that would impose heavy prison sentences on Gay and Transgender people. Those that have added their voices to the mounting criticism include the US State Department and former UK Prime Minister David Cameron.

Although homosexuality is taboo in the largely conservative country, and political leaders have periodically launched anti-Queer campaigns, Iraq did not have a law that explicitly criminalized it. The new law passed with little notice as an amendment to the country's existing antiprostitution law. It imposes a sentence of 10-15 years for same-sex relations and a prison term of 1-3 years for people who undergo or perform gender-transition surgeries and for "intentional practice of effeminacy."

It further bans any organization that promotes "sexual deviancy," imposing a sentence of at least seven years and a fine of no less than 10 million dinars (about $7,600 USD).

Scotland: First minister resigns, leaving questions over course of Queer rights
Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf has resigned barely a year into the role after the collapse of his government, following a planned no-confidence vote called for by the Green Party, part of his coalition. Yousaf took over as the leader of the Scottish National Party last March, hoping to extend its domination of politics there.

Yousaf has been praised by Queer advocates for his progressive stance, including confirming that Trans women will be protected under new misogyny laws in Scotland. His decision to resign has been the subject of speculation in light of the final report of the Cass Review published on April 10, which cast a critical light on gender-affirming care for minors in the UK, and subsequent tensions with other members of the Scottish parliament. Yousaf's resignation leaves the matter of Queer rights uncertain as his replacement is chosen.

UK: New study finds inadequate response to mpox outbreak
A new study of Gay, Bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (GBMSM) in the United Kingdom who were diagnosed with mpox (formerly monkeypox) found they often encountered difficulties accessing medical testing and treatment. The participants also felt a stigma attached to the disease and reported that their diagnoses resulted in negative reactions from members of both the straight and Queer communities.

The study, entitled "Experiences of mpox illness and case management among cis and trans gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men in England: A qualitative study," used in-depth interviews with 22 GBMSM who contracted mpox and four stakeholders from various clinical and communication organizations. It was published on March 12, 2024, by lead researcher T. Charles Witzel, in eClinicalMedicine, with the interviews conducted March through July of 2023.

Italy: Prime minister, far right seek harsher criminal penalties for surrogacy
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni said surrogacy is "inhuman" and is backing steeper penalties against the practice, including fines of up to $1 million and multiple-year prison sentences.

The act of surrogacy - with or without payment - is already illegal in Italy, but Meloni's Brothers of Italy party has introduced a bill that would further criminalize the act by hiking fines from €600,000 ($640,290) to €1 million ($1,067,150) and increasing jail terms from three months up to two years.

Meloni's comments against surrogacy fall in line with the views held by the Catholic Church. In a document released April 8, Pope Francis addressed surrogacy, saying it "violates" both the dignity of the child and the woman, who "becomes a mere means subservient to the arbitrary gain or desire of others."

The move to criminalize surrogacy is largely seen as being against the Queer community. Italy was the last Western European country to legalize same-sex unions (in 2016), but it does not allow same-sex couples to be married, in line with the Catholic Church.