Islam and Homosexuality
Iranian Queer Organization (www.irqo.net)
Iranian Queer Organization Online Magazine (www.cheraq.net)
Gay Middle East Web Site: http://www.gaymiddleeast.com/
More information about Islam & Homosexuality can be found at: www.al-fatiha.org
Other articles of interest can be found at: groups.yahoo.com/group/al-fatiha-news
Queer Muslim magazine: Huriyah
UTube video on persecution of gay in Iran:(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAzMuHyg8Eg)
Gay Islam discussion groups:
12 June 2007
An update report about the birthday party in Esfahan
Translated by Ramin
Eighty seven young men were arrested and beaten by police at a birthday party in Esfahan around 10:00 pm on May 10th, 2007. The police force while holding shooting camera accompanied by four clergymen first entered the second floor of the home where the family members were gathered and arrested some of them in addition to a child. They were released the day after. Then they went to the third floor where the party guests were gathered, turned off the lights, shot fake gunshots, forced everyone to lie on the ground, began beating them and walked over them. Then the police dragged either head-bags or their blouses over the guests’ heads, forced them to go to the street and pushed them under baton impact into a protected car. Despite the low capacity of this car (usually b/w 15-20 persons), the police stacked all 87 men in one car. The people who were witnessing the event on the street reported that the clothes of the arrested men were torn and their faces were bleeding. One of the guests jumped out of the 3rd floor window and now needs operation on his two broken legs. Based on the received information, they were transferred to the Esfahan Dastgerd jail and were exposed to severe pressure and torture. The crime of the arrestees is not declared yet and no condemnation is issued so far.
This attack is another example of the organized human rights violation and it is following the recent attacks to the women and workers movements which were severely condemned by the human right defending organizations as obvious cases of violating personal rights, privacy and individual freedom. The news of the attack to the party was sent to the IRQO by the phone calls of some people on the street at the same night and was released upon the confirmation by IRQO. It was further expressed in the news websites of USA, Canada, England, New Zealand, Sweden, the Netherlands, and few other countries. Through our contacts with Human Rights Watch, we were successful to establish the direct contact of the eye witnesses of the event with HRW. On May 11th, HRW provided a declaration draft and referred it to IRQO for the final consideration due to the sensitivity of the condition. The board directors of IRQO investigated the declaration draft through contacts with human rights organizations in Canada and consultancies with Iran and reorganized it considering the current condition.
The reasons for applying changes were discussed with HRW over a phone call and HRW released the procured draft the day after through its Middle East section. On May 17th and for the sake of the international day against homophobia, HRW declared Mahmood Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran as one of the top five homophobic leaders of the world. The other homophobes of that list are as follows: Pope Benedict XVI the world catholic leader, George W Bush the USA president, Roman Girtich the Polish Minister of Education and Deputy Prime Minister: for endangering children, and Bienvenido Abante, Member of the Philippine House of Representatives and Chair of the House Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights. On May 17th, the Secretariat office of Amnesty International in London in touch with IRQO provided a campaign for the quick release of the prisoners and sent the declaration draft to IRQO. In one of the phone calls with AI, IRQO proposed AI to ask the Iranian Government for reconsideration of the Islamic Punishment Act and the removal of punishment regarding any sexual act with mutual agreement.
Based on the phone calls from the family members of the arrestees, all of them are now released some with release bail and some without. The 19 year old man, for whom the birthday party was held, was condemned to pay 150,000,000 Tomans (about 170,000 USD) as the release bail. It was declared to the released men that their court would be held in few months. Some reports say that couples of them had received their citations for dates in late June. At the same party night, there were other arrestments in Tehran and Shiraz whose files have been sent to IRQO for International follow-ups. Moreover, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva has procured a letter and submitted to the top officials of the new UN commission for human rights with the hope of consideration of queers’ conditions in different countries including Iran and also the arrestment cases in Tehran, Esfahan, and Shiraz.
The AI agents in different countries including USA have announced many times the AI declaration dated 18th May and requested every one to submit complaint letters to the officials in Islamic Republic of Iran and ask for the release of the remained 17 persons as soon as possible. As the mentioned latter was not updated and for the sake of temporary release of the arrestees and with the aim of prevention of any similar happening, IRQO in accordance with the central office of AI in London has asked the letter not be disclosed. IA updated its declaration few days ago based on the recent news from the party arrestees in Esfahan through IRQO.
June 20, 2007
Farsad and Farnam Story, a gay couple who have been tortured for being gay
by Arsham Parsi
I have always wondered if keeping silent about the status quo can lead to peace of mind, or whether a scream in protesting the misery caused by certain events is a more logical response. Despite the heterogeneity of Iranian society in general and Iranian queer community in particular, sometimes the oppressive events of the day force us to action. Though a small number of sexual minorities in Iran do not have any problem with police, security and their families, they are the exception. There are still many in the Iranian LGBT community who are struggling with huge hardships due to family interference and government oppression. The almost daily news of the arrest, humiliation, and torture of Iranian LGBT community members enrages me, and I am concerned by the reaction of our community as it deals with horrifying murders and savage executions committed in the name of "the law".
Generally speaking, the reaction from the Iranian community at large falls into two camps: those who feel that organizational activity and resistance by the Iranian LGBT community would provoke a strong government reaction, which in turn could lead to an international reaction against Iran as a whole, and those who seek a return of their full civil rights. The difference between the first and second group is that the second is not under pressure from the government due to their sexual orientation. I believe they can be asked to demonstrate for our full civil rights, as well. This crucial point could inspire us to express ourselves and demand what we want, instead of keeping silent.
During the last few months, Iran has seen the brutal arrest and prosecution of women’s rights activists. Concurrently, IRQO has encouraged the queer community and its supporters to begin petitions and seek popular support. Interestingly, these people were not anxious about an international military action against the Iranian regime due to human rights violations. I signed all their petitions, because I believe human rights are for everybody, not for one particular group. In spite of this, my name and those of other activists were erased from those lists due to concerns about the general situation in Iran.
There is no comment on the following pictures. The two are homosexual and they have been prosecuted because of their sexual orientation. There is no disputing this as we possess copies of their tribunal documents regarding their verdicts and sentences. I ask you, should we keep silent? Should we paint a false picture of their daily life situation? Certainly silence is not an option. Probably we should even be laouder. They received eighty lashes; I doubt that I would be able to endure one. I admire their courage. After getting his punishment, one of the men asked the person who executed this barbaric sentence, whether he felt closer to the god by this savagery or not.
These pictures are taken almost one month ago, and a month after they’ve lashed. When I called them by phone of the first day, they were not able to talk. Because of the pain they could not even sleep. Farsad is 26 years old and Farnam is 24, (their names have been changed to protect their identities, as they have long been in contact with IROQ). Their lives, like many, if not all the other LGBTs in Iran, is miserable. Farsad lost his father at fifteen and his mother re-married a revolutionary guard member (a military organism developed by the Iranian regime), which itself is a bitter story.
“Since childhood I could not find any attraction to the opposite sex; yes of course I am a homosexual.” Farsad says. At 21, in order to meet other people like himself, he set up a successful weblog. The secret police found his address through his IP and arrested him. He spent three weeks in solitary confinement, and then he was accused of obscenity, advocating decadent values and homosexuality. They sentenced him to six month in prison. After completing his sentence he suffered from depression and phobia about revealing his identity and going back to prison, with symptoms so debilitating he was hospitalized. Then his diary was found by his stepfather, who demanded Farsad denounce his homosexuality. When Farsad resisted, his step-father took him to Qom (a holly city in Iran, and a center of Ayatollahs) to be seen by the grand ayatollahs; He spent a few nights in custody, was humiliated by the security forces there.
They threatened him with stoning unless he denounced his homosexuality. Traumatized by the threats, he was then taken to see a grand ayatollah, where he signed his confession and forgiveness plea. He was then returned to Tehran, where he received 95 lashes before being released. Almost as a afterthought, he was questioned by the supreme leader’s office in the university where he was studying … and was expelled from school, as well.
Last winter, he met Farnam in a gay chat room. After corresponding they moved in together to start life as a couple, in disguise but together. They invited a small group of their friends to celebrate this union. Just fifteen minutes after the party began, the police broke into their house and arrested everyone. They were brutally beaten, says Farsad, and then transported to a police detention center. They spent the entire Persian new year holidays in a prison cell. “We were beaten to the point that my spine hurt permanently; I still feel the pain caused by the fists pounding my face”, Farsad says.
They were accused of advocating decadency, homosexuality and prostitution. Because they were arrested together, the authorities insisted on more details about their relationship. During the police interrogation, they were asked, "Did you have sexual intercourse with each other?” They did not admit to this question, and eventually they were sentenced for having an improper relationship, for which they received 80 lashes. All other guests were released conditionally and they were ordered to remain in the city and not get in-touch wiht each other. Two weeks before the execution of their sentence, the party attendees were arrested again and were sentenced to 60 lashes each, which all received in the same day. Farsad and Farnam were told that 80 lashes was just for holding the party , and that their sentence for the improper relationship would be executed later.
Under increasing pressure from their families, and the government’s threat of reopening their older files, which could lead to a possible death sentence, they decided to escape the country, and now are waiting to be transferred to a safe, gay friendly country. IRQO has been actively following their case and is pursuing it in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. We hope one day full civil rights are granted to the LGBT community all over the world.
(Pictures at: http://www.irqo.net/IRQO/English/pages/059.htm)
June 24, 2007
Iran in Toronto Pride Parade 2007
Toronto’s annual Pride Parade is not only the biggest in Canada, but also one of the biggest in the world. The event honours diverse sexual and gender identities, histories and cultures. This year’s Pride Parade, held on a beautiful Sunday afternoon of June 24th, culminated a week of gay pride activities all over the city that featured over 600 artists in a free outdoor multidisciplinary arts festival. This year’s International Grand Marshall was Rossana Flamer-Caldera, co-secretary of ILGA (International lesbian and Gay Association) who also works as a queer activist in Sri Lanka as a founding member of the organization Equal Ground. This year Pride Toronto decided to highlight eight countries where queers face persecution in the form of torture, punishment, or the death penalty.
The eight chosen countries were Iran, Pakistan, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Belarus, Russia, Jamaica and Honduras. Carrying their respective flags, representatives of each country marched at the head of the Parade just behind Rossana, showing the world the pressure they face to remain silent. Arsham Parsi was invited by Pride Toronto as an Iranian queer activist to take part in the Parade for this purpose and carry the Islamic Republic of Iran flag. The flag-bearers were trailed by the rest of the parade – a celebratory march filled with music and dancing, bright costumes, proud slogans and floats from various queer groups and organizations that make up Toronto’s diverse queer community.
Interview with an Iranian Lesbian in order to convey her Protest to the World
To all the lesbian women of Iran: As of this day we will walk in the path of freedom, hand in hand, with linked arms, firm steps and heads held high. We will break the chains that bind us, chains of captivity, chains of fear. With solidarity, strength, and pride we shall stand up for life in freedom. The time of censorship, oppression and isolation has come to an end. The time has come to speak courageously of injustice, tyranny, and violation. If you and I don’t air our cries of pain and sorrow to the world, we will die in a prison of terror. With one voice let us convey the problems of a lesbian Iranian woman to the world. If you and I remain silent, not only our rights but those of countless others shall be sacrificed. What are you waiting for? Together, let us cry freedom.
If you are interested in working with us, contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(For confidentiality reasons, names have been changed in the following interview.)
Please introduce yourself, in whatever way you prefer, to our readers.
I am Taraneh, an Iranian lesbian. I’m 48 years old. 17 years ago I became a refugee in Europe.
—When did you realize you were a lesbian?
From childhood I preferred to have girlfriends rather than boyfriends.
—Why did you become a refugee?
I am a lesbian. For this reason I was arrested countless times. I went to prison and ultimately sentenced to death [by hanging]. I remember the first time I was arrested; I was 21 and a student in Esfahan. I was making love with my girlfriend in a car when I was arrested. I was kicked out of university. I spent 3 months in prison. I was whipped. Eventually I went to India to continue my education. But my family did not want me to stay there so I had to return to Iran. From there began the rest of my problems.
—What problems did you have in Iran as a lesbian woman?
Everyone had found out I was a lesbian. They [my family] married me off, I had no other option. I married a relative. But I had a girlfriend. When the neighbours found out they informed on us. The Revolutionary Guards stormed our house, beat us up severely, and took us away with blindfolds.
—Did they have evidence?
Yes, they also arrested my girlfriend and their evidence were letters we had written to each other , they had found them.
—They arrested you for writing love letters?
In my second arrest I was forced to confess my lesbianism. Right now as I am writing these words my body is shaking, all of a sudden I feel cold. I wish God would avenge every second of my life spent being beaten with cables and filled with the screams of me and my girlfriend, who was only 17 at the time. They placed me in the solitary confinement wing. I had been beaten so much, I was bleeding heavily. I pleaded with them to help me but they didn’t. Still, the side-effects of the beatings have not gone away. The judge in Esfahan’s revolutionary court suggested I repent and cooperate with them, help them arrest others in the lesbian community. After rejecting his offer, I suffered another severe beating and a couple of days later they relocated me to the woman’s ward.
—What condition was your girlfriend in?
Since she was younger, they said she had been manipulated and released her with bail after 6 months. In my case, since it was my second arrest, since I had a husband, and since I would constantly talk back [to the authorities] I remained in prison for an extra 2 years. Then they showed me a paper and told me it was a verdict for hanging. Every day they would mentally torture me by saying “even if you’re released, we’ll get you, send you to prison and hang youâ€�. I was in the ward for women who were prostitutes, murderers, thieves, etc in Esfahan’s Dastgard prison. I was given 160 lashes in a judicial office by a man named ***. They tied me to a bed in the middle of the backyard. The other prisoners came to watch me being whipped. In the evenings, as torture they would blindfold me and then lead me around the backyard over and over again, turning me this way and that. My inspector Mr. *** would say to me "this year they should burn you". All this torture only for being a lesbian.
—In prison, were there also other women arrested on homosexuality charges besides you?
Yes. I found 38 friends who were all lesbian and had been arrested on this charge. Most of them were forced to marry. Some of them ran away to Dubai or France.
—How did your husband and family react?
They told my husband “you must show your wife the righteous path. My husband was in disbelief. But my family had known I was a lesbian since my childhood – that is why they married me off. I have been violated my whole life without anyone ever hearing my voice. I have lived a life I did not want. I have laughed for others so no one would know what was inside me. Believe me; I am ashamed that so far I have not been able to relieve this pain.
—How come you were released?
By giving lots of bribes and using connections, I was released on the occasion of Imam Zaman’s birthday.
—What did you do after prison?
Flee. I searched for a way to flee life in Iran. Nor family, nor husband, no one was important to me anymore. Psychologically I was in a bad place. I had gone mad. I went to Cyprus, then to Turkey, and then I became a refugee here. After 5 years, brimming with things to say, I was completely alone. My father came here. To appease him, I was forced to bring my husband over illegally. In court they told him “your wife is a lesbian and they separated us.
—What is your current situation?
I am alone. Even here I am afraid, and I think it is this fear that isolates me. A strange fear is my constant companion. If I were to write the torments I have suffered on a piece of paper the reader would surely go mad. Although, everyone has suffered pain in one form or another. Have you heard of someone being tied to a car and pulled over the ground? In Kashan, they tied me to a car and pulled me across the ground. What should I say, who should I say it to? If there was a God who would punish these criminals Why must I, at the pinnacle of freedom, even fear myself? Why doesn’t anyone listen to us? Where is this ‘human rights’? Which Islam? Which God?
—Many assume that since lesbians in Iran are women and keep their sexual orientation secret, they don’t face problems. What is your opinion?
They have many problems, but they cannot voice them. They cannot, because they have no defendants. My father was head customs officer. They shamed our family in such a way that to this day my family does not love me. From childhood this feeling was within me, I couldn’t discuss it with anyone. Is there anyone capable of understanding us?
—We think there are many women like you in Iran, but why is no one aware of their plight? Because Iranian women have not reached that level of maturity in terms of accepting themselves and their lesbianism. And they have no other choice. There is no law to defend them. Even if someone has screamed, no one was there to hear it.
—Some people believe that if lesbians in Iran lived a secret life they wouldn’t run into problems!
In my opinion, one cannot live secretly in Iran. Because Iranians cannot accept a woman living alone. I am even afraid of Iranians here. If you live alone they ask “who is providing for you?” With this ridiculous culture that we have, the mentality of Iranians here is still the same as it was.
—What is your dream?
If I could, I would rescue all lesbians [in Iran] and bring them here. It has been years that our screams have died out and not reached anyone’s ears.
June 27, 2007
Translated by Ava
Within the past two weeks, following the rightful objection of the Iranian people in regard to ever-increasing government pressures, a new wave of repression and suppression has begun inside Iran. As part of an interview with the TV program Kooleh Poshty on July 24th, in an emphasized and detailed account Mr. Saeed Mortazavi names every group and individual targeted by the new wave of government violence and murder in Iran. In these comments, he clearly outlines groups allegedly violating official Islamic laws and speaks in detail about various forms of dress, makeup, and hairstyle deemed unacceptable and unforgivable. Meanwhile, so as to cover the poison of his violent threats, Mr. Mortazavi considers that in the event the guilty party is not aware of the meaning and message of his/her appearance, he/she will not be punished upon the first arrest and instead receive warning and guidance. Apparently during his discussion Mr. Mortazavi does not refer at any point to images and repeated reports of the method of punishment utilized by the authorities to deal with those they consider guilty of so-called immoral offences.
Considering the circumstances in which respect for the rule of law and people’s fundamental rights is the least matter of concern for the judicial system, a situation where as soon as an individual is targeted he/she is dealt with in a brutal and violent manner, for the purpose of intimidation verbally and physically attacked, and in many cases before the accused has been able to respond to the accusation(s) against him/her all that remains of them is a bloodied and battered body – Mr. Mortazavi’s words cannot warm the hearts and inspire confidence among listeners. During the course of this interview, Mr. Mortazavi intentionally and incorrectly makes five references to the term “hamjensbaz” [Sodomy] rather than the correct term ‘homosexual’. By relying on an incorrect translation of the phrase “I am object” as seen on a shirt worn by a young man, the homosexual community in Iran has been subjected to intense punishment.
The Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO) condemns the continued violation of human rights committed by the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran using every method of violence and pressure against all sectors of society, in particular Iranian sexual minorities, and asks all individuals and organizations active in the realm of human rights to engage in legal intervention for the purpose of decriminalizing homosexuality. Taking into account the revelations that have come out of the dark and deadly history of the Islamic Republic of Iran, it is not unthinkable that Mr. Saeed Mortazavi, the well known face of its Judicial power and a man accused of countless deaths including that of Zahra Kazemi, puts his utmost efforts on the translation and analysis of hair styles and written words on the garments of the defiant and repressed young generation while insecurity, injustice, unemployment , corruption and ever-increasing lack of individual and civil liberties have jeopardized the life of the society.
Unfortunately, most of the time such manic comments and behavior become the initial flames that fuel a new cycle of violence, murder, and violation of people’s rights. Everyone has heard news of the recent executions and it is possible to consistently follow the story of the continuation of these killings via any free news outlet. According to internal and unverified reports, it is anticipated that in this phase of suppression and repression about three hundred individuals will be executed for chimerical crimes.
No matter where we are, it is up to all of us to raise our voices in protest against the savage acts committed by this regime and put pressure on international human rights organizations to stop this wave of violence and killing.
16 July 2007
‘How I escaped from torture in Iran’
An asylum seeker who was deported to Iran in 2004 has been describing how he managed to escape from custody and make his way back to the UK. In this three-part series, the BBC News Website follows Shahin Portofeh’s story, from deportation and alleged torture in Iran, to his escape and flight to the UK in an arduous and dangerous journey across Turkey, Greece and Italy.
Shahin Portofeh was so scared at the prospect of being deported from Coventry back to Iran that he sewed up his eyes and lips in July 2003 in an effort to draw attention to his case. Having had a gay relationship, Mr Portofeh, now 27, knew he faced the prospect of being repeatedly lashed and then executed if he was returned to his homeland, where homosexuality is illegal. But the Home Office decided to deport him, sending him back to Tehran in 2004.
Mr Portofeh described his terror on the day he thought might be his last as a free man. They tortured me, beat me up, asked me what I was doing in England, who was supporting me "They kicked my bedroom door in and just threw themselves on me – I was really, really frightened. Just a few minutes later an immigration officer walked into the room and said: ‘We’re going to deport you to Iran.’ I was begging them, asking them: ‘Please don’t deport me’ but straight away they took me to the airport and the very same day they deported me back to Tehran."
Mr Portofeh said that the ill treatment began as soon as he touched down. "When I arrived there straight away they put me in the airport detention centre and they kept me there two days."
"It was really, really cold without any glass in the windows. It was snowing – I was really cold – I only had my T-shirt on and they kept me two days there without any food. My profile was handed to the NSA – the National Security Agency. They tortured me, beat me up, asked me what I was doing in England, who was supporting me, whose idea was it to stitch up my face and lips and be against the Iranian government.
A guard pulled up my T-shirt and stubbed his cigarette on me
"They didn’t show me any mercy… kicking me, punching me and sometimes using their batons to beat me up. They just beat me up and made ready my case to the court. The judge sentenced me to 60 lashes and the same day they lashed me – that was really painful. I was begging them for some treatment, asking them for some medicine, some painkillers, but they didn’t show any mercy. He (a guard) just pulled up my T-shirt and stubbed his cigarette on me."
Mr Portofeh explained how he bribed a fellow prisoner to make a key for him while he was awaiting his next court hearing, where he faced the prospect of a death sentence. He said he smuggled the key into the court under his tongue.
"They left me on a metal bench and handcuffed me to the bench. I was really frightened even to do this… it was the only way to save my life. I unlocked both the shackles and the handcuffs but I let them stay on my arms so it looked like they were locked and put the shackles under the bench. I was so lucky I hadn’t any prison uniform on. A crowd of people were at the court. It was really busy. I got outside. Fifty yards away I found my brothers had parked the car by the road. I jumped in the car and straight away just drove away."
The Home Office said it did not comment on individual cases. Mr Portofeh eventually returned to the UK in 2005 and settled in Manchester. He has since been given leave to remain for five years. In part two of Mr Portofeh’s story, he recounts how he fled Iran across the mountains to Turkey, eventually making his way to Greece where he was placed in detention once more.
7th August 2007
Iranian paper shut down for interviewing lesbian
by Gemma Pritchard
A leading Iranian newspaper has been shut down for publishing an interview with a woman accused of being a "counter-revolutionary" homosexual. The ban on Shargh, the favourite newspaper of Iranian liberals, comes amid growing pressure on the press in Iran and follows the closure of fellow moderate daily Ham Mihan last month. It is the second time in less than a year that Shargh has been shut down by Iranian officials. On Saturday the newspaper published a full-page interview with Saghi Ghahreman, an expatriate Iranian poet who lives in Canada, under the headline "Feminine Language."
"The main reason for the ban was an interview with a counter-revolutionary who promotes immorality," Alireza Malekian, the director of press in the culture ministry, told the state-run IRNA news agency. Mehdi Rahmanian, Shargh’s licence holder and managing director, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) : "We had an article which was an interview with an expatriate writer. They said she had moral problems, they say she is homosexual and promotes that in her weblog. But we talked to her as a poet."
Malekian told IRNA it was now up to the judiciary to decide in court whether the ban should be permanent. "This person is a known element who even promotes immorality in her cyber publication," he said. Ghahreman is the editor of a website called Cheragh which focuses on Iranian lesbian and gay issues. Shargh’s lawyer Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabai said: "Interviewing an individual cannot be a reason for closure when there is no vice in that interview. "The reason for the ban is unlawful because the judiciary has not protested against the individual who was interviewed," he said, according to IRNA.
The hardline daily Kayhan, known for its repeated attacks on the moderate press, said in its Monday edition that Ghahreman was head "of the Iranian homosexuals organisation." "Media observers believe that Shargh has interviewed this homosexual while aware of her sick sexual identity, dissident views and porno-personality," it added. Shargh had only returned to the news-stands in May after serving a nine-month ban for publishing a cartoon deemed offensive to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Yesterday Shargh published a front-page apology for the interview, saying it had been "unaware of this person’s personal traits" and would in future "avoid such people and movements."
Ghahreman made no explicit reference to homosexuality in the interview, but said that "sexual boundaries must be flexible… The immoral is imposed by culture on the body." Iran’s moderate press has been stunted by a spate of closures under President Ahmadinejad. Ham Mihan, directed by former Tehran mayor Gholam Hossein Karbaschi, was shut down in July, less than two months after the authorities allowed it to reappear after a seven-year ban. Culture Minister Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi has also denounced a "creeping coup in the press" while last month authorities banned the moderate labour news agency ILNA.
16th August 2007
Iranian teenagers spared death penalty for gay abuse
by Tony Grew
A court in Tehran has spared two teenagers found guilty of sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy from hanging. US gay rights activist Michael Petrelis reports that the the judges of Branch 74 of Tehran province’s general criminal court ruled that the teenagers, Ahad and Milad, had not reached mental maturity and instead sentenced them to ten years in prison. In front of the five judges, the teenagers first admitted that they lured the boy into a house, telling him there was a squirrel on the roof, before sexually abusing him. The accused, who are 16 and 17-years-old, then said they did not intend to harm him, but were in an "altered mental state" when the incident occured. They subsequently totally denied that any abuse had taken place, despite confirmation from the medical examiner that the boy had been sexually assaulted.
Ahad and Milad then maintained their innocence throughout the rest of the court’s proceedings. Two of the judges sentenced the boys to death. The other three noted the repeated denials of the teenagers, and their young age, and opted for a custodial sentence. They ruled that the boys were too mentally immature to be aware of the seriousness of their actions.
Lily Mazahery, an Iranian-American attorney and human rights activist, told Mr Petrelis that she views this ruling and similar ones involving teenagers as a giant positive step forward in bringing civilised standards of human rights to Iran. In 2005 Iran drew protests from around the world when two teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari, 15, and Ayaz Marhoni, 17, were publicly executed because according to the regime they were rapists. Gay campaigners insist the boys were killed under Sharia law for the crime of homosexuality
by Arsham Parsi
Translated by Solmaz, Edited by Ava
Can you introduce yourself?
My name is Kamran, I am 24 years old .Kaveh, my partner, is 25 years old and we have been together about 3 years.
What is the problem of an Iranian homosexual?
Kaveh: The first is that we cannot discuss any of our problems. We have a problem with the government due to our sexual orientation; the Islamic government does not accept us and we are condemned to hanging and stoning. In comparison the rest of the problems are minor.
How do you describe life as a homosexual in Iran?
Kamran: Very easy; one cannot work, cannot have fun, and cannot go out. You cannot go out with your partner because everybody will look at you as if you are abnormal. The way we are looked at is a source of torment for us. Even though physically we are not any different from them they discriminate against us. This makes our lives extremely difficult. I don’t think there is any problem greater than being labeled abnormal in society when you are certain nothing is wrong with you. If someone abuses you, you cannot issue a complaint to any organization or report to the police, because you’ll create more problems for yourself.
What are the family problems faced by homosexuals?
Kamran : Familial reaction is just like that of society. No matter how close the family, it is not possible to be accepted. Homosexuality is an unrecognized issue for people in Iran, families included. They will always look at us as different because we are not like our cousins or uncles. We are not like our friends and acquaintances and so we cannot take part in their social gatherings. Why? Because we are homosexuals. That is the only reason. It does not matter how hard we try to resemble others in society. They [parents] will always sense we are different, because we are their children.
Dose your family know that you are homosexual?
Kamran: Yes, my family has known for long time.
Kaveh: My family cannot understand. Their age and health situation does not put them at a place where they’ll be able to understand, so I don’t see the reason to tell them. Moreover, if I tell them they’ll think this is a childish game and will not take me seriously. Once, because of problems that arose, they tried to come between me and Kamran’s relationship. I told them he and I would like to live together and remain close friends. They think we are very good friends. But they don’t believe we are gay. The thought would probably not even occur to them.
What do you think their reaction will be if you told them?
Kaveh: My family will believe it, but I am certain my parent would definitely have heart attacks. I will have problems with my brother. And I will definitely be kicked out of the house.
Why do you think parent can’t accept their child’s homosexuality? What is to be done in order for them to reach acceptance? What, in your opinion, is the core problem here?
Kamran: I really think the main problem is the social environment of the country. I know even in Europe, with all the freedom surrounding homosexuality, this is not very common and some families still have difficulties accepting it. For example, in England which has been known as one of the most liberal countries for homosexuals, people differentiate the lifestyle of homosexuals with heterosexuals and do not see it as a normal relationship. In Iran, we have more problems because we have a religious government and we have very limited relations with other countries. If legal obstacles were to be taken away, it would be possible to change people’s minds about homosexuality. It will be possible to discuss it, tell people that homosexuality exists whether you like it or not and it isn’t like an illness that can be eradicated by taking medication, it isn’t like mental depression to have recovery time. You can’t tell a little girl not to be a girl, or to a boy not to move like a boy. You can’t tell a heterosexual man to not be heterosexual. So you can’t tell a homosexual man “don’t be gay. Go and fall in love with a girl and marry her”. Our families are traditional, and they want their children to be exactly what they are. They care more about their neighbors and friends gossiping than about their children. I, a gay man, matter less to my family than a neighbour or the local street-vendor. They are willing for me to suffer and become what they consider a normal human being so that strangers will say: “Oh, they have such a good son”.
Kaveh: And other problem that people have in Iran is that they do not have any knowledge about homosexuality. There are gay people that do not know they are gay and get married. Then after a while they are not happy in their life and realize that they are gay, or in some cases they get divorced but still fear their homosexuality. In an Iranian family a mentally challenged child is given full attention, sometimes even more than to their siblings. They accept this as something God has willed, and they will not let any body harm the child. But they will not look at homosexuality as God’s will. They think it is because we never had a girl friend or because we are perverts. They don’t see homosexuality as a natural social reality, but as something acquired and chosen. We have not chosen to be homosexual. We were born homosexuals. What better answer can we give?
Kamran: Another difficult thing is that people do not know anything about our emotional life. They think homosexuality it is only about sex. "Homosexuality means sex" – this is what most of the people in Iran think and say. Unfortunately, some uneducated people say I want to "do" a gay. They think gay means prostitute.
Kaveh: I think people mostly get these stereotypical assumptions about gay people is from gay web sites. If I search the word "gay" or “homosexual” on the internet it will give me these websites of naked men and women or their private parts, so people will assume gay means prostitute. For example, we proudly print a section of an article from your publication that is informative for families to read and give it to our family, ask them “please read this and see what it says about this issue” because in Iran we don’t have a source of information. Everything else is internet porn sites. The image people have of homosexuals is an evakhahar [a flamboyantly feminine homosexual man] in Daneshjou Park who waits to be picked up in cars and has sex all the time.
Kamran: If you believe homosexuality is a disease, look how many accomplished people we have.
Many of our doctors, engineers, artist, and chemist are homosexual. If that is an obscene sickness, why are these people so sophisticated, educated and accomplished? There is a number of successful executives I know who are gay. Why are these people successful? Are they homosexual and sick? Of course nothing is wrong with them; they just have a different sexual orientation. Homosexuals were born homosexual. Some people think socialization can be part of it, but I do not think so. This raised two questions for me. Why do you think people call homosexual "evakhahar "? What does evakhahar mean? In addition, Kamran pointed to famous and successful people like singers and actors in cinema, figures most people are constantly exposed to and in a sense interact with daily. So how can they find homosexuality so unacceptable?
Kamran: I think their culture and way of thinking makes it impossible for them to accept it. At the most they’ll say that famous gay person is still different from you. But he isn’t. He has the same sexual urges as me. On your other point, we call homosexual men "gay". Gay means a man who acts like a man, dresses like a man, and wants to be with a man. In this culture they think gay is a man who likes to put on makeup, act like a woman, and dress up like a woman. They call those men "evakhahar". Most of the time these people are not even gay. They just like to dress up and put makeup on, but they want to be with the opposite sex.
Kaveh: I really think evakhahar is a name that people use depending on the situation. I’ve been told that I am evakhahar. It depends on the situation. Evakhahars are people who don’t fit into social categorization. For example, if I live in Zaferanieh (wealthy area in north Tehran) and have crazy hair and wax my eyebrows and have earrings everybody will say “wow that is fashion” .They’ll think it is so cool. Now think if I live in Khorasan Square (religious and working neighbourhood in downtown Tehran) and I come out of my house dressed in such a way people will call me evakhahar because I will not fit in with the norm around me. This so called evakhahar doesn’t fit in any category. This gay individual doesn’t have a computer/internet because he cannot afford it and does not have a friend to talk to about his sexual orientation. He is trying to find a gay community and make some friends, maybe find someone more than a friend. He will be put under so much pressure by the society around him, he will be called an evakhahar and a woman so many times, he starts believing he is a woman and this may even lead to him getting a sex-change operation as a way to relieve the pressure. He May even be a manager of some corporation or have employees working under him, but he may have to put some makeup on when he goes out with his friends at night as a way to connect with people like himself. So he starts acting like a woman, putting on an act, moving his hands a certain way in the hopes of finding friends like himself and satisfying his sexual needs. In Iran there is no place for this community, so when people see him they think there is an evakhahar here to have sex. Of course there is good and bad everywhere, in any culture. Just as we have destitute women, we have destitute men. Just as we have prostitution in the heterosexual community, we have prostitution in the homosexual community.
You mean that if someone dressed like a typical resident of downtown Tehran comes up north people will think he is a bum or a hobo, even though in his own neighbourhood his appearance is completely reasonable and acceptable.
Kaveh: yes exactly.
Many people believe homosexuality is now a fashion trend, it is cool, and being gay or having gay friends illustrates class, sophisticated, open-mindedness. What do you think about this?
Kamran: Yes, homosexual is commodified as something high-class. But there are people who don’t have bread to eat at night and are gay. Homosexuality has nothing to do with economic status, but some people see it as the current stylish trend.
So it is possible for a man from northern Tehran who wears earrings, rings, sports crazy hair and an over-the-top style to be heterosexual but presents himself as a gay man in order to make a fashion statement?
Kaveh: Yes, we know many people they are not gay, but tell everybody that they are. In Tehran gays are divided into two groups: south side gays and north side gays. Or shall I say upper-class gays and working-class gays. Working class gays are financially struggling because there are no jobs for them. If they do get employed somewhere, soon many problems arise for them in the workplace. So in general they do not have any real income. Parents will not give them pocket money. They don’t have the means to go to school and pay for books or tuition. For financial reasons they are denied higher education. They get teased in their neighbourhood and it is very hard for them to find friends. Most young people these days care very much about the clothes and brand names and so on, so that also works against them. The difficulties these gays face are much more intense and horrible than their rich counterparts. Rich gays are not problem-free either. Their parents usually give them a car, a home and money and say “just go and get lost from our sight”. Most of these people live in uptown in fancy houses, work in their own businesses, and continue getting pocket-money from their parents. Working-class gays often have liaisons with upper-class gays. They are exploited by the upper-class as fresh faces. After a while these relationships inevitably expire. This is a type of entertainment for upper-class gays.
Kamran: There is a severe class distinction in Iran, and these two classes are in constant relationship with one another. They are forced to be in relationship. Many people believe the number of homosexuals has increased. Families admit that there were homosexuals around years ago, even individuals they knew personally, but these days there are more and more of them since it is now a fashionable thing to be. Why do you think people think like this?
Kamran: well this is obvious. Five years ago we did not have systems of communication that could bring us together. There is a computer or satellite dish in every home now. Ten years ago, we didn’t have any a wide-spread vehicle by which to raise awareness. Many gay people who haven’t recognized this feeling inside of them watch a program on the television, satellite and this makes them become a bit more aware of themselves and come to know their identities. In my opinion, with the opening of debate and cultural developments and communicational developments, more homosexuals are coming out of the closet. Homosexuals are not like ants, they are not going to grow and spread. They have always existed, but now are more visible to the main-stream society.
What is relationship between gays and lesbians like?
Kaveh: It is very limited. In Tehran our only mode of communication and access was the internet. I tried many times to chat with lesbians.I would tell them that I’d like to get to know you ,but they were suspicious . They wanted me to either talk through the microphone or turn on a webcam, because most people want to chat with lesbians are straight men who want sex. Lesbians had many problems. In many gay chat rooms, there were many straight people who pretended to be gay to abuse lesbians. Because of this lesbians didn’t respond to many people’s messages.
Kamran: I only knew a few lesbians who had limited relationships. They wouldn’t reveal themselves unless they really knew the person. I knew them few people through old mutual friends. But in general they conducted relationships very cautiously and with much restriction.
Kaveh: We would very much like to find a lesbian couple and be friends with them, so everybody could see gays do not hate women. Gays like to be with girls, go out, hold their hands and be friends. They have nothing against women. They just choose not to share the same bed. If we had some lesbian friends, we could deceive our parents. We could call them our girlfriends and we’d talk to them on the phone and our parents who have no reason to be suspicious of us. We would not have to come out of the closet to them due to societal pressures. Because they will not accept that we don’t have relationships with any girls.
Why do you think gays and lesbians are so disconnected from each other, and what obstacles must be taken away for these two groups to come together?
Kamran: I think it is because we do not know each other. If I tell some stupid gays who ask lesbians how they have sex that it is none of your business these problems will become less and less. Lesbians get upset hearing such questions, because they do not like to describe their sex life constantly to others. In addition, if a girl does not have a boyfriend in Iranian society, she could be a lesbian. If a girl does not date, parent will say we have a very good girl. It is different for boys. If a man takes care of himself and perhaps waxes his eyebrows and wears flashy clothes he’ll be criticized for it.
Kaveh: I think lesbians are more stupid. Nobody will see you if you don’t come out. Lesbians like to remain in hiding. Gays talk about it but lesbians don’t at all. So many people do not take their lesbian relationships seriously. In porn films they show a lesbian couple together who then turn around and have sex with a man. This is the image people have of lesbians. In my opinion, a coming together of the two communities and creating stronger connections amongst us will eradicate many of these problems. The gay community is much stronger than the lesbian community. Lesbians need to come out and get to work and be together, just like gays.
You ran away from Iran and are now in Turkey. Can you tell me what your situation is now?
Kamran: We don’t have the stability we had in Iran. In terms of food and health we are in poor condition.
Kaveh: Ever since we came here we got a skin condition. Our skin constantly itches. I don’t know if its bugs or fleas or what. But it itches so much we have wounds and sores all over our skin. We can’t sleep at night because of the itching and the pain.
Kamran: It is like pimples which have over taken our whole bodies. We went to doctor, but the medication is too expensive for us to afford buying it for the both of us. It is about 40 lirs (Turkish currency). We had to get one prescription and share the medication between us, which is obviously not going to work properly and the medication will run out before the prescribed treatment period. This is our health condition and this is our dirty living conditions.
Kaveh: It is very hard for single people to rent a home, so we had to stay in other people’s homes. We had a pretty desperate situation; we had to ask everybody for help. In terms of food, we usually eat once a day and try to sleep the rest of the day so we will not think about food and hunger.
Currently, where are you in your immigration process?
Kamran: we are still waiting. We went to the UN, they told us to come back in seven months, then we are going to interview you and ask you what happened to you. We do not feel well. I do not think I can make it. We will get all kind of horrible diseases or we might die.
Kaveh: When we told them about our situation, they told us we did not send you invitation card, being refugees is hard. What ever we had has finished. If you (IRQO) were not helping us, I don’t know what we would do. Until we go to the UN in seven months, we’ll have a very uncertain situation. We just have to be patient and wait. We have met people who have committed suicide due to the difficulties and pressure of this kind of life, or they have been waiting here for a few years and are still waiting, or those who have been deported back. We have lost the little hope we had but have no other option but to wait.
What kind of future do you think awaits you?
Kamran: I don’t know, but I’d like to benefit from the same legal rights anyone else in Iran has. This is not such a big deal, but in Iran is very big thing to ask for.
Kaveh: We do not ask for much in life. I want to have a 40 meter apartment in Iran where I can live with my partner, the person I love. Get up in the morning and go to work, work, and feel at peace when I return home. That’s it. Just a quiet life with my boyfriend. I’d like to reach this dream and not be hanged or stoned for loving someone.
September 25, 2007
‘Who Are We?’
Iranian Gays Ask Iran President during a speech at Columbia University By Grace RauhPresident Ahmadinejad’s contention during a speech at Columbia University thatthere are no homosexuals in Iran drew a swift rebuke from human rightsorganizations, with one activist challenging the president to explain how he,a gay Iranian, exists.
Taking questions from Columbia faculty and students who attended his addressyesterday, Mr. Ahmadinejad answered a query about the treatment of gays inIran by saying: "We don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t havethat in our country. We don’t have this phenomenon; I don’t know who’s toldyou we have it."The executive director of the Toronto-based Iranian Queer Organization, ArshamParsi, had a question for the president yesterday."Who am I? Who am I, if we don’t have any queers in Iran?" Mr. Parsi said,noting that in 2005 he had had to flee Iran to escape arrest.
A spokesman for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission,Hossein Alizadeh, said that, in Iran, there is a "constant fear of executionand persecution and also social stigma associated with homosexuality."Mr. Alizadeh, who said he is gay and moved to America from Tehran in 2000,added that the commission, which is based in New York, has documented numerouscases of gay persecution, including executions, in Iran. It is difficult toknow for certain the number of Iranians executed because they are gay, as thegovernment refuses to disclose the real reasons that lead to arrests, he said.
The director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights Program atHuman Rights Watch, Scott Long, said Iranians arrested on suspicion of beinggay are routinely tortured.Mr. Alizadeh, who said he was not openly gay in Iran, said there are manycases of Iranians in America and other countries who are seeking asylumbecause of their sexual orientation, noting that he himself was granted asylumon that basis.
26th September 2007
Ahmadinejad’s gay comments lost in translation
by PinkNews.co.uk writer
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has discovered that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s official website does not provide a Persian version of his recent comments on homosexuality in the country. The site provides a full and complete transcript in English of his speech to students at Colombia University in New York and the question and answer session afterwards in which he claimed that there are no gay people in Iran and homosexuality does not exist in the country.
However, the Persian transcript is missing both the question about treatment of lesbians and gay men in Iran and President Ahmadinejad’s response. "In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals, like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who’s told you that we have it." The President’s website purportedly provides the authoritative transcripts of his speeches and is relied upon by the news media in Iran. To date, not a single Persian-language media outlet in Iran, including Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, and the semi-independent news agencies, ISNA, Mehrrnews and Farsnews, and the Wednesday morning newspapers, has reported on the President’s comments.
"The first reaction of many of us was to join in the astonished response to President Ahmadinejad’s clearly outrageous view that no lesbian or gay people live in Iran," said Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of IGLHRC. "But the whitewashing of his comments from the eyes and ears of most Iranian citizens speaks to something more troubling. His denial attempts to simply erase from public view the lives of men and women who face regular abuse in his country. Perhaps he knows he could not credibly get away with such a denial among his own people."
IGLHRC has documented widespread and systemic violations of the rights of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Iran.
November 13, 2007
Iranian Official Confirms Gay Executions
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
(London) In a meeting between Iranian and British parliamentarians a high ranking Iranian politician has for the first time acknowledged that the Islamic state upholds the death penalty for homosexuality according to minutes of the meeting obtained by The Times newspaper. The disclosure came during a peace conference – the Inter-Parliamentary Union – in May. The Times obtained the minutes of the meeting under Britain’s freedom of information law. LGBT rights groups have reported for more than a year that gays were being executed but the government in Tehran has repeatedly denied the public hangings were for homosexuality. In 2005 two young men hanged in a public square in northern Iran after were alleged to have been found guilty of homosexuality. (story) The government claimed they had been convicted of kidnapping and raping a male teen.
In May a western LGBT organization for gay Iranians says it has learned police have arrested as many as 87 gays at a private house party. (story) Some international gay rights groups believe that more than 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979. During the May meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union British MPs questioned Mohsen Yahyavi a member of his parliament’s energy committee about the reports. The minutes, The Times reports, show that Yahyavi responded that gays deserve to be executed or tortured and possibly both,
"[He]explained that according to Islam gays and lesbianism were not permitted," the record states. "He said that if homosexual activity is in private there is no problem, but those in overt activity should be executed [he initially said tortured but changed it to executed]. He argued that homosexuality is against human nature and that humans are here to reproduce. Homosexuals do not reproduce."
British Members of Parliament said they were shocked by Yahyavi’s attitude. "It is of great concern that these attitudes persist and we made it clear what we felt," Ann Clwyd, a Labor MP and head of Britain’s delegation told The Times. In September President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad drew jeers and laughter during a speech at Columbia University when he declared there were no homosexuals in Iran.
"In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like you do in your country. We do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who’s told you that we have it," Ahmadinejad said
November 14, 2007
Execution in Iran Halted: IGLHRC Cites Global Protest as Central
New York – The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has learned that the Iranian Chief Justice, Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, has nullified the impending death sentence of Mr. Makvan Mouloodzadeh, a 21-year old Iranian citizen found guilty of multiple counts of anal rape (ighab), allegedly committed when he was 13 years old. The Iranian Chief Justice described the death sentence to be in violation of Islamic teachings, the religious decrees of high-ranking Shiite clerics, and the law of the land.
"This is a stunning victory for human rights and a reminder of the power of global protest," said Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC’s executive director, who on November 5 sent a letter in Persian and English asking that Iranian authorities intervene to halt the execution.
The verdict in Mr. Mouloodzadeh’s case was questionable from the outset. Although no one ever accused him of rape, the court declared otherwise. All parties involved in the case told the court that their statements during the investigation were either untruthful or coerced. The investigation was also riddled with procedural irregularities. Recognizing that the death sentence in this case violated both international law and the Penal Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran, IGLHRC took action. In addition to writing letters to the Iranian authorities, IGLHRC issued an action alert on November 5, 2007, which prompted other human rights advocates to similarly object. Activists from around the world responded by sending over 100 emails demanding an immediate halt to Makvan’s execution.
Other human rights organizations, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the Iranian Queer Organization issued action alerts of their own. "It is absolutely imperative that we halt the deplorable use of the death penalty to force social conformity," said Ettelbrick. "We hope that Makvan’s case and the profound rejection of the death penalty by the Iranian Chief Justice sets the course for the future in Iran." After a designated group of judges from the Chief Justice’s office formally nullifies the court’s decision, the case will be sent to a local court for retrial.
You can read IGLHRC’s action alert on our website:
Our Letter to the Iranian authorities is also posted on our website in both English and Persian: http://www.iglhrc.org/site/iglhrc/section.php?id=5&detail=798
16th November 2007
Gay rights group suggests sending flowers to Ahmadinejad
by PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
The Iranian Queer Organisation IRQO is asking people to send two flowers to the President of Iran as a protest against the treatment of gay and lesbian people under his regime. The idea grew out of the campaign to stop Iranian lesbian Pegah Emambakhsh being deported from the UK. Her supporters sent thousands of bunches of flowers to her while she was in detention, which caused disruption and helped highlight her case. Ms Emambakhsh is now out of detention and awaiting her application for ayslum to be heard by The Court of Appeal.
IRQO said in a statement: "In Iran the courts continue to sentence women, political activists, young people, free thinkers and homosexuals to death. There is a need to approach the Iranian President, Mahmud Ahmadinejad, and the judges and tell them, in a peaceful but firm way, that life is sacred in every part of the world and according to all religions – that always invite the faithful to be compassionate. It is for this reason that we are asking you to send a white flower (symbol of life) and a red flower (symbol of blood) to Ahmadinejad, asking him not to spill the blood of other innocent victims, and to abandon the path of terror and violence."
In September President Ahmadinejad said in reply to a question posed about homosexuality during his speech at New York’s Columbia University: "In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country… In Iran we do not have this phenomenon, I don’t know who has told you that we have it."
Despite his claim, Iranian human rights campaigners estimate that 4,000 gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs came to power in 1979. According to the gay rights group OutRage! "the Islamic Republic of Iran is qualitatively more homophobic than any other state on earth. "Its government-promoted and religiously sanctioned torture and execution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people marks out Iran as a state acting in defiance of all agreed international human rights conventions."
The Islamic Sharia law followed in Iran makes gay sex illegal, with penalty of death for offenders as young as 14 years old. Iran caused international outrage in 2005 when two Iranian teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari, 15 and Ayaz Marhoni, 17, from Khuzestan province, were witnessed engaging in homosexual activities in a semi-public area and were hanged for perverting Islamic law.
5th December 2007
Iran carries out execution for juvenile crimes
byPinkNews.co.uk staff writer
Makvan Mouloodzadeh was executed in Kermanshah Central Prison at 5 a.m. this morning, Iranian time. Neither Mr Mouloodzadeh’s family or his lawyer were told about the execution until after it occurred. The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) reports that despite an order by the Iranian Chief Justice to nullify his death sentence, he was put to death. "This is a shameful and outrageous travesty of justice and international human rights law," said Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC’s executive director. How many more young Iranians have to die before the international community takes action?"
Mr. Mouloodzadeh was a 21-year-old Iranian citizen who was accused of committing anal rape (ighab) with other young boys when he was 13 years old. However, at Mr. Mouloodzadeh’s trial, all the witnesses retracted their pre-trial testimonies, claiming to have lied to the authorities under duress. Makvan also told the court that his confession was made under coercion and pleaded not guilty.
On June 7th 2007, the Seventh District Criminal Court of Kermanshah in Western Iran found him guilty and sentenced him to death. Despite his lawyer’s appeal, the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence on August 1st 2007. The case caused an international uproar, and prompted a letter writing campaign by IGLHRC and similar actions by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Outrage! and Everyone Group. Mr. Mouloodzadeh’s execution came days after a panel at the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty.
December 7, 2007
Iranian man executed for alleged sex crimes
by News Editor
A 21-year-old Iranian citizen, who was accused of committing "anal rape" with other young boys 8 years ago, was executed on Wednesday, according to the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. In a press release issued by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission on Dec 5, the US-based group that addresses human rights violations against LGBTs worldwide said it had learned this week that a 21-year-old Iranian man has been executed for allegedly committing "anal sex crimes" when he was 13. Despite an order by the Iranian Chief Justice to nullify Makvan Mouloodzadeh’s death sentence, he was hung in Kermanshah Central Prison at 5 am on Wednesday morning, Iranian time. Neither Mouloodzadeh’s family or his lawyer were told about the execution until after it occurred. IGLHRC is still investigating the facts in this case.
"This is a shameful and outrageous travesty of justice and international human rights law," said Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC’s executive director. "How many more young Iranians have to die before the international community takes action?"
Mouloodzadeh was a 21-year-old Iranian citizen who was accused of committing anal rape (ighab) with other young boys when he was 13 years old. However, at Mouloodzadeh’s trial, all the witnesses retracted their pre-trial testimonies, claiming to have lied to the authorities under duress. He told the court that his confession was made under coercion and pleaded not guilty. On June 7, 2007, the Seventh District Criminal Court of Kermanshah in Western Iran found him guilty and sentenced him to death. Despite his lawyer’s appeal, the Supreme Court upheld his death sentence on August 1, 2007. The case caused an international uproar, and prompted a letter writing campaign by IGLHRC and similar actions by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Outrage! and Everyone Group. In response to mounting public pressure, and following a detailed petition submitted to the Iranian Chief Justice by Mouloodzadeh’s lawyer, the Iranian Chief Justice, Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, nullified the impending death sentence of. Mouloodzadeh. In his November 10, 2007 opinion (1/86/8607), the Iranian Chief Justice described the death sentence to be in violation of Islamic teachings, the religious decrees of high-ranking Shiite clerics, and the law of the land.
In accordance with Iranian legal procedure, Mouloodzadeh’s case was sent to the Special Supervision Bureau of the Iranian Justice Department, a designated group of judges who are responsible for reviewing and ordering retrials of flawed cases flagged by the Iranian Chief Justice. However, in defiance of the Chief Justice, the judges decided to ratify the original court’s ruling and ordered the local authorities to carry out the execution. Mouloodzadeh’s execution came days after a panel at the UN General Assembly passed a resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty.
December 6, 2007
State Murder for Sex at 13 in Iran
By: Doug Ireland
In violation of international and Iranian law and any notion of due process, Makwan Moloudzadeh, 21, was hurriedly exeuted in the early morning hours of December 5. The Courageous Iranian Journalist Who Covered the Trial Speaks to Gay City News. The Islamic Republic of Iran murdered Makwan Moloudzadeh, a lad of 21, on the cold morning of December 5. Makwan was dragged at dawn from his jail cell in the Kermanshah Central Prison and hanged in secret within the prison, without the required presence of his lawyer and family, for the so-called "crime" of having had anal sexual relations, which the authorities claimed was rape, with boys of his own age eight years ago, when he was 13. Given witness recantings during his trial, it is impossible to know what, if in fact anything, actually transpired.
Amnesty International released a statement denouncing the execution as a "mockery of justice." The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission’s executive director, Paula Ettelbrick, said in a statement, "This is a shameful and outrageous travesty of justice and international human rights law. How many more young Iranians have to die before the international community takes action?"
And the trial of Makwan, held in June, was indeed a farce
"The only witnesses who had given statements to the intelligence police saying they had been raped by Makwan came into court and repudiated those statements, saying that they had been extracted under torture," the only Iranian journalist to have covered Makwan’s case extensively, Mitra Khalatbari of the newspaper Etemade Melli, told this reporter by telephone from Tehran. Khalatbari, who covered the story for months and courageously agreed to speak on the record to Gay City News, added, "Makwan himself told the judge that his admission to the Intelligence Police that he had had anal sex with one boy in 1999 was also obtained by torture, and that he now denied it and proclaimed his innocence." Prior to his execution, Makwan engaged in a hunger strike of ten days to protest the physical and psychological torture he’d been subjected to while in custody to make him confess.
"There was no other evidence," Khalatbari, speaking through a translator, told Gay City News. "The judge did not bother to order medical examinations to see if rape had taken place, nor did he bother to order medical examinations to see if torture of the witnesses had taken place," she continued. "The judge’s verdict of guilty, and his sentence of Makwan to death, was based purely on his personal speculation," she added.
As punishment for his hunger strike, Makwan – after having had his head completely shaved, a grave insult in Iranian culture – was paraded by police through the streets of his home town of Paveh on the back of a donkey, as police permitted passersby to hurl insults and invective at him and pelt him with stones, eggs, and other objects. The state murder of young Makwan – who was only 20 if one uses an American calendar, but 21 if one uses an Iranian calendar – was triply illegal, in violation of international law and Iranian law. Two international treaties to which Iran is a signatory – the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child – both forbid the imposition of the death penalty bar for crimes committed before the age of 18.
As Human Rights Watch pointed out, "These provisions reflect the reality that children are different from adults. They lack the experience, judgment, maturity, and restraint of an adult." Iran has ratified both those treaties, and has taken no steps to abrogate or nullify them.
And, although the Islamic Republic of Iran is one of only nine countries in which homosexuality is still punishable by death, the Iranian penal code forbids execution for sodomy of anyone who is not at least 15 years old – and Makwan was just 13 at the time of the alleged crime. Moreover, journalist Khalatbari told Gay City News, "Iran’s chief justice, Ayatollah Seyed Mahmoud Hashemi Shahrudi, declared Makwan’s death sentence to be against the principles of Islam, citing a religious decree issued by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. Ayatollah Shahrudi then ordered the execution halted until there could be a retrial." "A few days later," according to Khalatbari, "the case was sent to Tehran, and despite the chief justice’s opinion, Makwan’s death sentence was confirmed and sent back to Kermanshah for immediate implementation,"
in an obvious attempt to rush through the execution before the retrial Shahrudi had ordered.
Khalatbari told Gay City News that "even in the last hours of Makwan’s life, the authorities continued to break the law. The execution order specified that he was to be hanged in the public park in Paveh where the so-called rapes had been committed – that would probably have happened on a ‘public day,’ like the coming Friday. Instead, he was hastily executed in secret, on Wednesday, in the Kermanshah Prison. There was no prior notification of the execution to the family or the lawyer, as the law requires, so Makwan’s lawyer was not allowed to be present, as the law also requires.
"Thus, Makwan was not allowed to say goodbye to his family, nor were there any plaintiffs present at the place of execution with whom Makwan could plead for his life and ask their forgiveness to escape death." Khalatbari heard about the execution when she got a phone call from Makwan’s lawyer while she was in a bank. "I was so very upset I left all my documents in the bank – I didn’t realize it until the bank called me to tell me I’d left all my things there," she told this reporter. Khalatbari immediately returned to her newspaper, Etemade Melli, and wrote a stinging account of the manipulations of the Justice System (Qoveyeqazaiye, which includes all judiciary and prosecutors) and other authorities to bypass the chief judge’s "stop and re-try" order and proceed in surreptitious fashion to execute Makwan.
But after reading Khalatbari’s article, the editorial board of Etemade Melli refused to publish it. I asked Khalatbari why. She replied, "They are constantly afraid that the newspaper will be closed, and they thought I challenged the Justice System too directly."
Etemade Melli is controlled by one of President Mahmood Ahmadinejad’s opponents in the last presidential election, the Hojatalislam Mehdi Karobi, a former speaker of the Iranian parliament who placed third in the 2005 contest. After her article was rejected, Khalatbari said, "I cried all the way from the newspaper’s office to home, thinking about how unfairly Makwan was executed. But all this crying didn’t calm me down. Indeed, today was one of the worse days of my journalistic career. I’ve had many bad days, but I have never been so sad. "I want to apologize to Makwan’s father and uncle…maybe we didn’t do enough. Maybe. With the execution of Makwan, I feel like I have lost a member of my own family," Khalatbari concluded. .
As many as 78 minor Iranian children are facing execution right now in Iran, as are several dozen more Afghan children arrested in cross-border smuggling operations. In June, Amnesty International issued a report entitled "Iran: Last Executioner of Children;"
which you can read online at http://web.amnesty.org/library/index/engmde130592007.
Doug Ireland can be reached through his blog, Direland, at http://direland.typepad.com/direland.
Hossein Alizadeh, communications director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (http://www.iglhrc.org), a gay native Iranian granted asylum here as a refugee from sexual persecution, provided translation services for this article.
10th December 2007
UN questions Iran hanging as thousands attend funeral
by Tony Grew
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed "grave concern" at the execution of a 20-year-old Iranian man for crimes he allegedly committed as a child. Louise Arbour urged Iran to "respect its international legal obligations and the strong international consensus against the execution of minors." A crowd of 6,000 people are reported to have attended Makwan Mouloudzadeh’s funeral on Friday. He was executed on Wednesday in a prison in the province of Kermanshah in western Iran.
Ms Arbour said that Iran is a signatory to international conventions banning the execution of people who were under the age of 18 years when they committed the crime they are charged with. Iran leads the world in executing juvenile offenders, persons under 18 at the time of the crime, and is known to have already executed two juvenile offenders this year. In May Branch Seven of the Penal Court of the city of Kermanshah sentenced Mouloudzadeh to death for raping three boys in 2000, even though all of his accusers had recanted their statements and he had repudiated his confession as being coerced by the police.
Mouloudzadeh was convicted as a juvenile offender. During the trial, all of Mouloudzadeh’s accusers recanted their accusations against him and Mouloudzadeh himself testified that any confessions that he had made to the police about the alleged crimes were coerced and false. The judge did not accept their testimonies and sentenced Mouloudzadeh to death.
December 18, 2007
Iran: Internet Cafes Shut Down In Drive Against Un-Islamic Behavior
by Farangis Najibullah
Police in Tehran have raided more than 430 Internet cafes and other shops during the first days of the latest campaign against what they say is inappropriate and un-Islamic conduct. Iranian state media quote the police as saying that in the past few days, they have closed down 25 Internet cafes and given warnings to 170 cafe owners for "using immoral computer games and storing obscene photos," and for the presence of women without "proper hijab" on the premises. At least 23 people — including several women — have been detained for similar reasons.
The owner of one of the Tehran Internet cafes that was inspected and temporarily closed down by police, who gave his name as Hessam, told RFE/RL’s Radio Farda that police started questioning him when they found some family photos — with a female member of the family among them — on a computer. "We had a few family photos in our system. They asked, ‘Who is this girl that is sitting close to you?’" Hessam said. "Just because of those private photos, they closed this place for three or four days. [The police pressure] has reached that level! It has become a headache, a problem for everybody. We don’t know what to do."
The Internet, and Internet cafes, have become increasingly popular in Tehran and other Iranian cities in recent years. According to official state figures, 60 percent of the country’s population has access to the Internet. However, independent sources say that figure is exaggerated, given the fact that many Iranians villages do not even have electricity. International estimates say that some 20 percent of Iranians have access to the Internet. Most of the customers at Internet cafes are young people who come to play computer games, check their e-mail, or take part in website chat rooms and blogs. Some Iranian journalists describe the latest campaign as an attempt by the authorities to limit access to a major source of alternative news and information and restrict Iranian’s intellectual and social freedom.
Badrolsadat Mofeedi, an independent journalist and a campaigner for media rights, told RFE/RL from Tehran that the latest assault on Internet cafes is no surprise. Mofeedi said that "in addition to a crackdown on independent media, every now and then the Iranian authorities put pressure on all other sources of news and information, such as satellite dishes, the Internet, and even bookshops." In October, several Tehran bookstores were given a 72-hour ultimatum to close down coffee shops that were operating inside their stores. Amaken-e Omomi, a state body that controls retail trade, said that operating a cafe inside a bookshop is an "illegal mixture" of trades. "Some Internet sites have been filtered. A variety of measures has been taken to restrict the political and social atmosphere for those who are involved in the distribution of the information," Mofeedi said.
The Iranian authorities say they have blocked access to "immoral websites" such as pornographic sites. According to Iranian independent journalists, however, many political websites — including personal weblogs or blogs — and many independent news sources are blocked with a filter so that Iranians cannot access them. Those sites includes radiofarda.com. Hassem, the Internet-cafe owner, says the "heavy filtering of the websites has slowed down the Internet in Iran, reducing its speed by almost 50 percent." The clampdown has coincided with the ongoing police campaign against anyone who violates a strict Islamic dress code. The police have even installed mobile stations on Tehran’s busiest streets to stop women who disobey the dress code, for instance by wearing a hat instead of a head scarf or by tucking their pants inside of their boots.
Isa Saharkhiz, an independent journalist and a member of the Association for Press Freedom in Iran, told RFE/RL from Tehran that enforcing these restrictions — on everything from dress to the Internet — has been part of the Iranian government’s policy since President Mahmud Ahmadinejad came to power in 2005. Saharkhiz said the closure of the cafes was partially aimed at preventing young people and intellectuals from getting together, as well as trying to restrict the free flow of information. "None of these practices brought any results in the past," Saharkhiz says. "No one is able to put barriers on news and information and, especially, no one can shut down the Internet — in Iran or elsewhere in the world."
Cafe owner Hassem said that no matter how hard the authorities try to block access to websites, young Iranians will succeed in circumventing the filter and find their way to the prohibited sites.
(RFE/RL’s Radio Farda correspondent Sariborz Soroosh contributed to this report.)