Italy has urged Iran to stop executions, today, citing Rome’s ‘deep

uneasiness’ with a spate of executions of gay people in the Islamic

Republic.

More than 140 people have been executed in Iran so far this year, many of them convicted of ‘hooliganism,’ which some reports say includes consensual gay sex.

“On the instruction of [Italian foreign] Minister Massimo D’Alema,

the foreign ministry today protested to the deputy chief of Iran’s

embassy in Rome, Hossein Mafi Moghaddam, Italy’s deep uneasiness with the executions that have been taking place in Iran over the last weeks, including those which cited homosexuality as a charge,” the foreign ministry said in a statement according to Adnkronos.com.

Last week, Iranian sources reported that some of the 16 people hanged, 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.

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

punished.

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.

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.

Iranian authorities carried out 177 death sentences last year

according to human rights organisation Amnesty International.