The internet, magazines, newspapers, TV, and radio are all media means that aim to communicate with a specific audience. Iraq, like other countries around the world, uses these means to convey news to the Iraqi citizens..... Our question is, to what extent can we rely on the media and its news in a country like Iraq?
In one way or another, media affects our views as well as our opinion about our lives and the lives of others around us. Media, also, changes our level of acceptance or rejection of certain events that take place inside and outside the country. Plus, it constantly changes the angle in which we look at what is around us and perhaps sometimes makes us become extremists as we reject any differences that we notice.
Constant exposure to content that imposes negative opinions about a group of people often increases the likelihood of spreading hatred against them and this is exactly what the Iraqi media has been doing against the Iraqi LGBT+ community.
Imagine that the media can persuade women to use a specific face cream or men to choose a razor from a particular company by constantly sharing advertisements that either speak positively about a product of a particular company or speak negatively about a product of another company. The situation gets worse as we realize that media affects not only what we want to buy, but also things that have a greater impact on our lives and the lives of those around us, such as sexual orientation, religion, political tendencies and many more.
An important point to mention is that not all the information we get from the media is wrong but we have to be careful when choosing our source of information to avoid forming wrong opinions.
Does the Iraqi media address the subject of homosexuality and the LGBT+ community?
Iraqi media gives full space and freedom to anyone who wants to speak negatively about the LGBT+ community even without providing any supervision to determine whether the information being published is true in the first place.
We all can see that it’s easy in Iraq to spread rumors about the LGBT+ community but it is difficult to defend the community and to correct the wrong ideas that are already spread about it. While haters are free to say what they want to say about the LGBT+ community, those who want to defend and help the community end up being threatened, insulted, or even dead.
One of the ways in which the Iraqi media negatively affects the Iraqi LGBT+ community is by spreading misconceptions that have no scientific basis. One of the worst misconceptions against the LGBT+ community is that sexual orientation can be changed and controlled. In other words, a gay man who is attracted to men chooses to be like that, and if he had morals, he would have chosen to be attracted to women. For this reason, we see that many of the LGBT+ individuals are blamed and forced to change.
Other than that, the Iraqi media uses harsh and disrespectful words to refer to the LGBT+ community, which in turn makes it normal and acceptable to offend the members of the community. The Iraqi media visualizes the LGBT+ community in a negative way and spreads hate speech. Doing that does not only normalize violence and hatred against LGBT+ people but also teaches Iraqis that it is necessary to kill or violate any LGBT+ person.
In addition, the Iraqi media often associates sexual orientation and the LGBT+ community with topics of pedophilia or with prostitution and moral decay. Doing that creates an image in people's minds that LGBT+ people have sexual obsession and that all their relationships happen to fulfill their sexual needs but never based on love. That could be a reason why most mothers and fathers reject their LGBT+ daughters and sons and they go ahead to either kill them or force them to get married.
As we mentioned previously, frequent exposure to the news that carry a huge amount of hatred against the LGBT+ community in addition to the lack of freedom given to organizations and activists to raise awareness about sexual orientation leads to having generations that think of violence as a way to save the Iraqi morals and values.
Understanding what sexual orientation and gender identity mean as well as understanding the meaning of human rights and freedoms can contribute to reducing cases of violence, suicides, and forced marriage.
Iraqi parents, Iraqi schools, and Iraqi media may not support homosexuality or the freedom of choice but let’s keep in mind that the Internet makes it easier for us to educate ourselves and understand such topics in a scientific and correct way. Reading and spreading awareness by relying on trusted sources can make a huge positive impact on our Iraqi mentality.