Eighty young men have been arrested at a birthday party in Iran under suspicion of being gay.
Last Thursday, security forces in Isfahan stormed a birthday party and arrested every person there. The partygoers were beaten with batons before they were taken into custody.
As yet there is no evidence to support the idea of the men being gay. The men are being held for participating in a party with alcoholic drinks, music and dancing.
Sixteen of the men are being held for wearing cross-gender outfits, a practice which is not uncommon at popular Iranian costume parties. The man who was holding the party is known only as Farhad.
So far, the men have not been charged with any crime.
A witness who would only give the name Peyman told the Iran Queer Organisation: “I went to buy a gift for Farhad and so I arrived late for the party.
“As soon as I turned in to their street, I saw police cars parked everywhere; all my friends were arrested while seven or eight policeman beat them with batons.
“Fearing the usual punishments for attending a party, two had jumped from the second-floor window and were in a bad condition.
“Farhad’s family were also arrested. Everyone was transported into a big car and taken into custody. All their cell phones are off and we have no information about the situation inside the jail.”
The next morning all of the suspects were taken to court, and later to the jail.
The court will not permit the families of those arrested to visit their children, and is not accepting bail for their temporary release.
On Sunday May 13, the Iran Queer Organisation also received news that the suspects were being tortured and held in unacceptable conditions in the jail in Isfahan. They believe that the lives of the detainees are in danger.
Arsham Parsi, the executive director of the Iranian Queer Organisation said: “Obviously this crackdown is yet another systematic violation of human rights, along with brutal suppression of womens’ movements in Iran and must be strongly protested by all human rights organisations as yet another violation of people’s private rights and liberties.
“This means that for now, what is urgently needed is to strongly object to this gross violation of human rights and the invasion of young people’s lives and dignity.”
Under the Islamic Shar’ia law followed in Iran, gay sex is illegal, as is any sex that takes place outside marriage.
The maximum punishment for adultery and gay sex is death, and teenage boys as young as 15 are eligible for the death penalty.