More than twenty Russian activists protested outside the Iranian embassy in Moscow today, the second anniversary of the execution of two gay teenagers in Iran.
A group of nationalists and religious activists who turned up to counter-demonstrate were stopped by police and dispersed.
While this was seen as a positive step after the bloody police actions at a gay Pride demonstration earlier this year, it emerged that the application for the Iran protest did not mention gay rights.
Moscow Pride organiser Nikolai Baev said:
“It seems that even homophobic activists start to understand that gays and lesbians may rally and protest in Moscow absolutely free, and walk on streets with their flags and slogans.
“This is also a clear result of our policy that we started with the gay Pride movement in Russia.”
Protesters carried placards carrying the slogans “Iran! Hands Off Gays!” and “No Death Penalty!”
They were protesting the 2005 hanging of two teenage boys.
Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni were publicly executed in Iran because, according to the regime, they were rapists.
Gay campaigners insist the boys were killed under Sharia law for the crime of homosexuality.
Afdhere Jama, editor of the queer Muslim magazine Huriyah, supports the view that Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni were gay and that they were hanged because of their homosexuality.
He bases his belief on evidence he received from three people in the city of Mashhad, where they were hanged, including information from a person who knows the family of Ayaz Marhoni.
Mr Jama said:
“According to my sources, the boys were arrested about a year and
couple of months before the execution.
“On the day of their arrest, five boys were fondling each other in a semi-public area. Their ages were thirteen, fourteen, two fifteen-year olds, including Mahmoud), and seventeen-year-old Ayaz.
“These are all boys that knew each other, and had homosexual relations with each other (perhaps for years).
“A woman called her civilian police husband who then tried to arrest them all (with the help of civilians), but only Ayaz, Mahmoud and a thirteen-year-old boy were caught.
“Because the age of consent for men in Iran is fifteen, the thirteen-year-old is automatically then classified as raped by Mahmoud and Ayaz. So, in the eyes of the Iranian law, that boy was raped.
“Whether the other boys were a few years older or not is not even a question, not to mention whether he (the thirteen-year-old) was a willing participant. Because the issue is homosexuality, it even carries a harsher sentence.”