Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has described Iran’s plans to host a conference on Holocaust denial this week as an “incredible insult to all minorities who suffered under Nazism.”
Since coming to power in 2005, Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has insisted that the Holocaust is a Zionist conspiracy, the event this week invites so called ‘experts’ to debate whether the event happened.
Around 6 million Jews are believed to have been killed by the Nazis in concentration camps during the Second World War.
Additionally, It is thought that between 5,000 and 15,000 gay people, who were seen as “sexual deviants” were sent to gas chambers, and forced to wear a pink triangle under the Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry’s Institute for Political and International Studies has now invited international Holocaust deniers to come and demonstrate their theories, claiming their should be freedom of speech on the issue.
Mr Tatchell expressed shock at the event, he told PinkNews.co.uk: “The fact that Iran is hosting a conference which is based on the premise that the holocaust never happened or is exaggerated reveals once again the bigoted politics of the Iranian leaders.
“It’s an incredible insult to all minorities who suffered under Nazism including Jewish, gay, communist and gypsy people. Sponsoring this conference reflects the anti-Semitism, homophobia and national chauvinism that characterises the ayatollahs.”
One participant at the event is US academic and former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, he praised Iran for holding the event. Mr Duke told Reuters: “There must be freedom of speech, it is scandalous that the Holocaust cannot be discussed freely.
“It makes people turn a blind eye to Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.”
But Mr Tatchell revealed that Iran has stopped people who do not agree with their view from attending, “Although the Iranians claim that the conference is open to different points of view, liberal Palestinian lawyer Khaled Mahameed was originally invited to attend but when the Iranians discovered the he was planning to condemn holocaust denial and express solidarity with the Jewish people, he was denied a visa.”
Mr Mahameed argues that Arab denial of the Holocaust damages the Palestinian cause.
The conference has also been condemned by the United Nations, the US and the UK.
Holocaust denial is illegal in several countries including Austria, Germany and Israel, and comes under religious incitement laws in the UK.