Posters celebrating the LGBT community have begun mysteriously appearing around city of Baghdad.
The banners, written in Arabic, read “Like me, like you. Differences and diversity are the basis of life,” and include the acronym LGBTI, along with a pair of rainbow-colored hands making the “love” symbol.
— Ahmed Abdulwahab (@yourfavehabibi) June 24, 2017
The signs have been going viral on social media, but their origins remain a mystery.
That’s probably because while homosexuality is technically not criminalized in Iraq, discrimination and harassment remains prevalent. Additionally, distributing material that “violates the public integrity or decency” is punishable with up to two years in prison.
Gay men have also been targeted by violence from the Islamic State, with accused homosexuals thrown off buildings and stoned in some circumstances.
— Ali Ajeena (@AliAjeena) June 19, 2017
The posters “a very brave step in Baghdad,” says Ayaz Shalal of Rasan, an Iraqi group that advocates LGBT rights, called
“It shows us how much change is going to happen soon in the future,” Shalal told Gay Star News, “and that there is a national movement in the whole country that wants to actually change something in the society, but it lacks the proper support.”
“I am personally very impressed by those who did the posters,” he added, “and I support them all the way to the end.”