Expatriate Iranian sources are reporting that some of the 16 people
hanged last week, labelled ‘the most famous hooligans in Tehran,’ were executed for being gay.
Islamic law states that all sexual acts outside of a heterosexual
marriage – referred to as sodomy – are forbidden.
“Within the structure of many penal codes, if not in the minds of the general public, sodomy laws are grouped together with rape, sexual assault, incest and sexual abuse of children thereby conflating crimes of sexual violence with acts of non-procreative sex,” say Hossein Alizadeh and Grace Poore, of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
“People in both groups are lumped together as social deviants. They
must be cast out, punished and, in Iran, executed.”
As part of a wide-ranging crackdown on ‘indecent behaviour’, police
arrested over 1000 men in May in poor districts around Tehran.
The annual targeting of ‘indecency’ usually starts in the summer, with Iranian security forces cautioning, arresting and beating women for ‘flaunting’ the country’s strict dress codes.
“Our decisive confrontation will continue in Tehran down to the very last thug,” said Ahmad Reza Radan, commander of the capital’s police force, launching the initiative.
The Iranian Press Service reports that in Iran, ‘thugs’ are socially and economically marginalised youth from poorer areas of the city.
‘Thugs’ in Iran have been flogged for as little as using a personal
stereo, as well as using drugs – Iran has the worlds’ highest rate of drug addictions – and drinking alcohol.
But politicised young people are the most targeted.
More than half of Iran’s population is under the age of 20, with young Iranians making up around 70 per cent of the population.
They are showing increasing frustration with the country’s repressive laws, high unemployment and lack of opportunity.
According to Alizadeh and Poore, the crackdown is being used to create fear and justify targeting lesbian, gay and bisexual Iranians.
Claims of sex crimes must be verified by four adult male witnesses,
and a complainant who fails to provide enough witnesses can be
As marital rape is not illegal, a man who rapes a nine-year-old girl is exonerated if her father agrees to let her rapist marry her.
Homosexuality is illegal in Iran and is seen as a violation against God.
The umbrella offence of ‘sodomy’ makes it almost impossible for
victims to come forward, or for the actual crime committed – whether consenting gay sex, rape or child abuse – to be deciphered.
According to Alizadeh and Poore, the label is often also used to
discredit vocal critics of the regime.
“Not surprisingly, in recent cases, Iranian authorities have made no effort to publicly present the required four male witnesses needed for conviction,” say Alizadeh and Poore.
“Leading to our suspicions that their current practice really is to
rid society of lesbians and gay men and promote fear.
“But, of course, we will never really know.”
On July 19th, 2005 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.
The National Council of Resistance in Iran issued a press release
in 2005 which stated, “the victims were charged with disrupting public order among other things.”
The Iranian clerics will not permit any political party or
organisation to endorse LGBT civil rights and no legislation exists to prevent discrimination, harassment, hate crimes and corporal punishment.