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COMMENT: My holiday in Iran challenged perceptions

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  1. Jack Stack 7 Jun 2008, 1:03am

    Obviously your writer who was so enthusiastic about vacationing in Iran was able to overlook what this vile and oppressive government has done to Gay people. Has he not seen the pictures and videos of young Gay men – some just kids – being slowly strangled as they were hoisted by cranes? Has he not heard about the sentences of whippings, torture and imprisonment of Gay men? Has he not seen the pictures of young women, convicted of being “immoral” being publicly strangled by being suspended from cranes? Has he not heard about the punishments meted out to Lesbians? I don’t know whether he is ethically blind, delusional or on medication but a Gay man visiting Iran and being “positive” is like a Gay man visiting Nazi Germany in the 1930s and having nice things to say.

  2. Alvaro Alvorado 7 Jun 2008, 3:53am

    Following on from Jack Stack’s comments I’ll translate your writer’s last paragraph in his ecstatic description of Iran to another time and place which he may have found to be just as “fascinating”:
    These contrasts are just some of the things I find fascinating about Nazi Gerrmany – there are so many strands to this historic nation from a clean and organised society with its amazing autobahns which puts the traffic choked street of London to shame, to amazing landscapes dotted with concentration camps, unrivalled history of persecution along with incredible hospitality (except if you’re Jewish, Black, Gay or non-Aruan) fairly mundane food, amazing parades, annoying Hitler Youth and Maidens, blasting radio speeches and serene, gorgeous cathedrals.

    No wonder he doesn;t want his name revealed

  3. Robert, ex-pat Brit 7 Jun 2008, 10:35am

    Perfect fodder for the Home Office to deny asylum for bona fide gay Iranians and others. The right wingers and those who are anti-immigrant, anti-gay will be jumping up and down for joy I’ve no doubt. They’ll say…”see, we told you it isn’t so bad afer all, just be discreet and you’ll come to no harm.” How naive!

  4. Sister Mary Clarence 7 Jun 2008, 12:12pm

    Can I just ask how many of those laying into the correspondent have actually been to Iran to view first had these things they speak of? Of perhaps they have just heard or read reports of these.

    As ever people are all too quick to wade in on here and damn anybody that offers an alternative to the gay=victim ideology that so many hold.

    There is no reason to think that the correspondent had an agenda other than to share his experiences in the country and yet because he has not encountered many of the things we have been told routinely go on in the country, he is a liar and a fraud.

    Reports of a different Iran to the one that is often peddled to us are increasingly common and whilst it is one of the last places I would want to live, and I can fully understand why others would want to leave it, perhaps we should start to look for a little more verification of gay persecution before shooting off at people.

    Clearly there are different standards of proof in Iran to our own country, a different criminal justice system, and different punishments, but these apply to the whole community across a broad spectrum of crimes and I would like to see more concrete evidence before we damn any country with a more harsh justice system than our own as barbaric and homophobic. Many of these countries do after all have crime rates considerably lower than those in our own country.

    Just because a gay person said it, does not necessarily make it true.

  5. SMC is being disingenuous. We have documented proof of gay people being executed. I don;t think the “different culture” argument really deserves any time – either we see human rights as universal and invioble, or they’re privileges given by the powerful to their serfs.

    Frankly I’m surprised how for SMC has drifted from the fundamental “liberal” line. S/he wouldn’t want to live there (why not?), but it’s OK for other more powerless gays. Yes we sometimes do claim persecution in this country too easily (though we’re not entirely wrong), but to project that onto the state that obtains in Iran, Iraq, or others of these places benigvhted by religious hatred, is frankly unforgivable

  6. Sister Mary Clarence 7 Jun 2008, 6:40pm

    I would not want to live in Iran or any other country with such a dominant religion, because I enjoy the freedoms that living in the West, particularly the UK, offer. However, one of the main reasons that there exists so much conflict in the world at the moment is that we in the West see our way of life as the only right way of life and we act against anyone, either directly or more often indirectly, who does not support similar values, fuelling conflicts around the world to engender change and bring governments and regimes closer into line with our own.

    We never see the positives in others societies and we are always happy to hear the negatives if they fit with the preconceived ideas that we have about others. We may not always be right. Whilst there are a vocal group of people who portray Iran as a nest of homophobia, the accusations are difficult to verify and many people, here in particular are happy to accept that they are true because it fits with their world view.

    The internet contains considerable amounts of data that suggests that Iran is not particularly hostile to gay people. By our terms the regime there is very hard, but it is equally hard to many sections of its society and not just to gay people. The correspondent that everyone is damning wrote what he saw and experienced and this too has painted a different picture to the one that many are happy to believe.

    There has been debate recently regarding the repatriation of gay Iranians, the argument again this has been that they will be put to death upon return, but others have argued that those gays that have been executed have been found guilty of other crimes. They may not have actually committed other crimes but the State was satisfied that the burden of proof required had been met. We in this country may have needed a different burden of proof, but Iran is a sovereign nation and has the right to conduct a trial in the way that it sees fit, in the same way that we are.

    The case of Madeline McCann emphasises how unwilling we are to accept that the judiciary system in other countries is on a par to our own. Portugal was slated relentlessly for its investigation of the case and it’s handling of the evidence and suspects and yet they have administered justice unfettered by Britain of any other country for hundreds and hundreds of years.

    I am not saying that gay people are not being tortured and abused in Iran in the ways that many are telling us that they are, but on the other hand I am not going to bet everything I own that they are. I have no reason whatsoever to believe the correspondent who wrote this article is a liar, although there are certain individuals using this site championing the plight of gays in Iran, who I believe to be prone to exaggeration to make their point.

    I don’t know the answer apYrs, but I do not that I will not throw my all into supporting anything until I’m pretty sure that I do.

  7. Alvaro Alvorado 7 Jun 2008, 11:41pm

    Oh give ema break Sister Mary Clarence. So are “Prone to exaggeration to make their point” !!!You say that different countries have judiciary systems different from our own and, persumably, we should not crticise what they do. Hello! So it was OK for apartheid South Africa to jail people who protested against that system. it’s OK for Saudi Arabia to behead women they call adulterors, its Ok for China to imprison protstors in Tibet, execute members of Falon Gong, silence critics of their regime with jail sentences? It’s Ok for women to be sentenced to be stoned to death in Nigeria? Let’s give Mugabe a free pass for doing things by his legal book. I could go on for pages listing the excesses and horros perpetrated in countries that have “different judiciary systems from our own”. So when next I hear of Gays being executed or jailed in some other country I will be comforted by the fact that its all being done according to law. The executions of Gays in IRan have been videotaped and distributed for all to see. Mobs surrounded the cranes as the terrified young men, pleading for their lives, had the ropes put around their neck snd then they were slowly hoisted to die of slow stangulation. IF you are Gay, which I suspect you are NOT, then you are a balthering idiot to be an apologist for regimes that persecute Gays and others, It was people like you who denied what was happening in Nazi Germany in the 30s, it was people like you who were apologists for Stalin’s mass murders, summary executions and the Gulags. The problem with you, enjoying the freedoms and benefits of living in western civilization, is that you take it all for granted, bend over backwards to nit pick our faults and then work hard to apologise and excuse those who would really do you serious harm.

  8. Since all you enraged homos are obviously ALL about human rights – I mean, you’re pulling the whole, “screw the other culture argument, human rights are universal and inviolable!” schtick – I really hope you are also protesting the US/UK invasion of Iraq, which, while you are being shrill and annoying, most people in the world view as a major if not the most egregious example of human rights violations. But it’s okay if we do it, right? I also hope you are protesting the hate crimes and racist behaviour by the police and others in England against minorities. But oh wait, that has nothing to do with gay people, and that’s all you care about. Ugly brutes.

  9. Sister Mary Clarence 8 Jun 2008, 7:21am

    What I actually said was “I am not saying that gay people are not being tortured and abused in Iran in the ways that many are telling us that they are, but on the other hand I am not going to bet everything I own that they are. I have no reason whatsoever to believe the correspondent who wrote this article is a liar ….”

    Clearly like the correspondent who wrote the article you have been to Iran, I take it, but unlike the correspondent you have seen all of these terrible thinks with your own eyes, or are you just regurgitating second, third or fourth hand information?

    It is widely accepted that the weapons of mass destruction that we invaded Iraq to destroy were the products of fertile imaginations in the West – but I notice you chose to overlook that one when you were hurling your global injustices at me. Nearly three quarters of a million people have died in Iraq because people in the West like you heard what they wanted to hear. No doubt you’ll be cracking open a bottle of champagne as America invades Iran too leaving a trail of hundreds or thousands of bodies behind it again. Small price to pay if it creates a better life for gay people, like it has done in Iraq – oh no, f**k me, it hasn’t made a better life, its made it worse. They will be scrapping the bodies of men, women, children and gays off the streets of Tehran pretty soon because America knows it can get away with anything when there people as stupid as you to answer to.

    As for whether I’m gay – typical childish, half-witted response that I might expect from a seven year old – don’t like what I’m saying, so therefore I’m probably not gay. As I haven’t ‘apologised’ for anyone’s behaviour, you obviously haven’t even bothered to read what I wrote – again probably didn’t like the first line and so just made the rest up.

  10. This article is interesting but, indeed, absolutely naive: a blinkered holiday report. I know because I have been there too. I have been to many other Middle Eastern countries as well. If you are a single gay man the chances are that you will find yourself CHARMED by any Middle Eastern city, unless of course you’re the kind of gay man who clearly LOOKS gay. In that case, you will find you attract nothing but derision, mockery, and sneers. I think it reasonable to assume that the writer of the article is not a person who clearly looked gay while in Iran. Otherwise the article would, I assure you, be of a very very different tone!

    We all know that going to any different and exotic land is a thrilling experience, simply because of the difference we experience. In addition, for us Brits it is a DELIGHT to find ourselves in ANY land where the temperature is constantly warm and where we can wear light clothing. Added to this you are on holiday, you have no cares, you are sight-seeing only. Seldom do you try to really get below the surface of what is going on in the society. Clearly the writer of the above article was looking only at the superficial. Evidence for this is that he only describes what he sees, and from what he sees he makes deductions. Very naive.

    There is no account anywhere in his article of his having sat with any Muslims in Iran for at least half an hour and getting round down to brass tacks with them about their views of who he is, what he believes, what his religious angle is. No, all he experienced, clearly, was the delight of sitting in a Tehran coffee bar, sipping coffee, looking at the others there, and, apparently, enjoying a “spliff”. Nothing deeper than that.

    I hope Pink News has not chosen to publish this article on the front page of its paper edition, for, yes, it will send an entirely erroneous message out to many in this country who would rather pretend that Iran is not a problem.

  11. Jack Stack 8 Jun 2008, 9:34am

    Thank you Alvaro Alvorado, Robert and APyrs for trying to convince this SMC that Iran persecutes and executes Gays. I guess you could repeat that old saying “there is none so blind as those who will not see”. Then, in a desperate effort to deflect the heat, SMC turns THE debate to Iraq and the WMD argunment. Well the difference is there were NO videos of the WMDs (although there were videos of thousands of dead Kurds gassed by Hussein’s lethal gas which, I guess, IS a WMD) but there are videos of Gays in Iran being executed, there are Gay Iranian exiles who report horrific persecution. So, while SMC says “just because a Gay person says it doesn’t mean it’s true” is a perfect riposte to the nonsense both the writer of the original article and SMC say. Therefore, using that premise, I guess we can ignore the recent mass arrests of Gays in Egypt where, Gays say, they are being targeted by the government and its compliant police but why should we believe them? SMC I only hope you have an easy life and never have to face what Gay people face in many parts of the world and, if something horrible does happen to you, I hope that you will be believed despite the fact that you’re a Gay person and, using your argument, why should anyone believe what Gay people say?

  12. Is she serious??


    I mean… does she watch youtube?

    People in the Islamo-fascist Doctatorial theocracy of Iran KILL PEOPLE AT ALL TIME.



  13. Well I will thank the reader for taking the effort to write down his thoughts. It does give us a small insight into life in Iran. The most important point to learn is that the Islamo-fascist dictatorship does not represent the Iranian people. A very important point for western powers to bear in mind when deciding what sort of action, we will have to take, to take out their nuclear capabilities – which should be top priority.

    The spliff episode is not an insignificant detail. We can see that in the most supposedly devout of countries, the teachings of the Koran is not enough in itself to inhibit drug use.

    I think some of the comments here are dogmatic: if one person does not agree, that voice must be heard, and listened to, even more carefully than we otherwise would. Otherwise we deny ourselves the right to change our opinions.

    That said, the writer on his second trip should consider Eddys comment above, and find out what they believe and why. The young generation may indeed hate their government. It says nothing on their opinions about gays and women. How do the views of people in Tehran differ from some little north esatern town, or from Persians, who had Islam imposed upon them….? Do they still sell A0 posters depicting the prophet Mohammed at the bazaars?

    (The author may also investigate the practice of three-hour marriages being sold by mullahs, with a ready-made divorce declaration after the conclusion of business. Of course, there is no such thing as prostitution in Iran!!)

    We need a comment from an Iranian gay person here. To the author: before your next trip, suggested reading would be “Iran Awakening” by Shirin Edabi; “The trouble with Islam today” by Irshad Manji; and “god is not Great” by Christopher Hitchens. On no account take these books with you. If you do, you will give us a very unrosy account of your stay in the country, that is for sure.

  14. Perhaps the idiotic Dhimmi who wrote this article could do a follow up on his next visit.

    How about openly declare their sexuality (as you can pretty much do in Western Europe) and see how long the Islamic tolerance lasts then?

    Or take along an Apostate from Islam and see how one who has rejected Mohammed’s message is treated (death or imprisonment?).

    Or try and talk about Christianity in the way Muslims are free to proselytise Islam in the West.

    Except, he doesn’t even need to travel to Iran to find out.

    Try going into one of the mosques featured in Channel 4’s documentary with the preachers of hate advocating killing gays and see how welcome he is made. Or how about tolerant Amsterdam where gays are now routinely beaten up by Moroccan youths?

    Or chat to the Pakistani converts from Islam living in fear of their lives in Bradford from their neighbours.

    Or go to that place in the Midlands where those Christian preachers were told to get out of a Muslim area or face the consequences last week. Oh, and this was by a policeman and a PCSO no less.

    He’d soon have the blinkers taken off him then.

  15. Edmund Raphael-Beldowski 8 Jun 2008, 1:04pm

    It’s my perception, from the article written by the anonymous, ‘Pink News’ reporter, that he conveys nothing other than his view of his holiday experience during his first visit to Iran. It is my opinion, that the most critical part of the prose is his remark pertaining to Princess Diana, something for which he might suffer, at the hands of a deranged, British person, in the U.K., as with all forms of fearsome cults, the fanatic ‘followers of Diana’ being just another group of self-opinionated experts in a valueless subject, which is completely vacuous.
    I rather am of the opinion that the purpose of the article was to advise others, who may have a shared interest to visit Iran, may so do in comparative safety, so long as they do not intend to offend anyone or any cultural difference, which is quite naturally expected of any civilized person, no matter which place they wish to visit. However bizarre the thinking and grotesque the actions of the elderly Ayatollahs are, the reporter does not condone them in any respect. Why? Because this was not the purpose of his visit, methinks. He did not visit that country with any expectation of requiring a single citizen to require to know his sexual identity, not unlike the majority of those who just happen to be born homosexual. He had no expectation of joining and sort of ‘gay’ march or another type of activity, which would only fuel the ire of the archaic leaders of that country, who, because of their lack of depth of understanding in certain subjects, approach
    lack of knowledge and uncertainty with unmitigated hostility. However hugely difficult the task, these bigots; of every religious or political group; require explanation, presented with sophisticated candour.
    There is no doubt of the atrocities which are a part of day-to-day
    activity, in Iran, of which most concerned individuals are aware. However, these are the results of the misgivings of the few and must, therefore, not over-shadow the normality of the vast majority of our fellow men and women in Iran, with whom we have not the slightest reason for difference of opinion.
    And, might I remind those contributers who express any measure of castigation towards the police force of any country, that no organisation is perfect in its entirety but one can never expect infallibility. The circumstances cited by the anti-Portuguese
    contributer remains as much of an unknown factor as ever it was. Let everyone remember the unreliability of ANY news press.

    I have been a person of homosexual character my entire life. I have never found any hugely inconvenient aspect in so being but neither have I ever had the slightest inclination to deny my identity or, on the other hand, flaunt it in any way. I have never offended anyone because of my character difference but I have been in positions when other homosexual men have attempted to unfurl my emotions, with regret. Straightforward education is the only means of getting a message understood, whilst displays of
    military might; hooded homosexuals ready for execution or
    ‘pink’ marches are deliberate displays of fear by the organisers and those who join with them, for whatever reason.

  16. Bill Perdue, RainbowRED 8 Jun 2008, 5:34pm

    SMC, or Twisted Sister as he’s more popularly known, is a supporter of the Conservative Party. As such he sees it as his job to promote and defend their policies, no matter what.

    If the Tories oppose same sex marriage, hate speech protections, lesbian reproductive rights and asylum for Iranians and other muslims fleeing certain death then Twisted Sister can always be relied on to skewer facts and twist logic to defend the policies of his Tory masters.

    If the Tories say that GLBT folk in Iran should be deported and take their chances that’s fine with Twisted Sister; his neck won’t be fitted for a noose and he doesn’t give a damn. He’s repeatedly said that he doesn’t have any “GLBT brothers and sisters” and he means it literally.

    When he can no longer twist facts and logic TS/SMC then routinely engages in character assassination and lies. Like Nixon and his infamous ‘enemies list’ Twisted Sister will go after anyone critical of Tory policies, racism and homophobia. Twisted Sister repeatedly tried to personally discredit Omar Kuddus, and this was in the context of Omar’s successful efforts to win asylum for Mehdi Kazemi. TS of course said that Omar was Un-British and he even accused Omar of stalking him, which is odd because if I’m not mistaken muslims avoid all contact with swine.

    When GLBT activists criticize the police for harassment of GLBT youth he accuses the activists of being having an unhealthy interest in those youth, and TS went on to say that accusations of police misconduct were merely gossip. And that criticizing the police is Un-British. Twisted Sister reserves a special dose of bile and hatred for those who criticize civil partnerships as a form of second class citizenship. He calls them merchants of death and tax cheats and Un-British and… well, you get the picture.

    Twisted Sister is the personification of a self-loathing homosexual (there’s nothing gay about him) Tory and finds himself more and more isolated on that account.

  17. The Pink Politico 9 Jun 2008, 5:14pm

    I agree with those who have criticised this article. At no point does the author refer to the outrageous abuse of Iranian LGB people in the country, which is odd to say the least considering that this is a gay website.

    His (I presume its a he because I suspect being forced to cover up would lead to to her taking a rather different view of the country) rose-tinted take on the fundamentalist country does not take away from the brutal reality that gay people who are forced to actually live in Iran have been hung from lamp posts and are one of the main targets for the repulsive regime in power there. It’s estimated over 4,000 LGB people have been murdered by the Iranian state since the revolution in 1979.

    And finally I would say to the likes of Lisa – this is a site that concerns itself with LGBT issues and I for one make no apologies for making this a priority issue when looking at the behaviour of other countries. And for the record I strongly opposed the Iraq War and the foreign policies of Duyba and his cronies but that does not mean we should turn a blind eye to the state sanctioned murder of gay men in Iran and the stoning to death of so called impure women. They cannot be laid at the door of America or Israel.

    If ever the phrase – your enemy’s enemy is not your friend – applied then it applies in this case.

  18. Edmund Raphael-Beldowski 11 Jun 2008, 1:01pm

    It is with certain sadness that I read the ill-thought and generalised wording of Bill Perdue, which can never be considered as a mediating ingredient in an recipe for democratic change, whatever the subject. Sophisticated candour ought to set the tone for debate, leaving generalisation as to the alleged political leanings of an one individual quite apart. Name calling and ‘stone throwing’ is not the conducive to equilibrium, as any logical thinking will prove. Gosh, these guttersnipe tactics are exactly those employed by the aggressor presumptive, are they not.
    Finally, might not Mr.Perdue consider that decent britishness is not some sort of nationalistic word, as I, personally, interpret from his usage of same. Is not Britishness; as we know it at this point in time; not just what all decent, ordinary British people strive to respect in their quest to be law-abiding; humane and placid, without the involvement of religion of any sort and the minimal use of political dogma.

  19. William - Dublin 11 Jun 2008, 1:09pm

    Well, Sister Mary, now you’ve done it. So, its time again, I see, to play “Bill Perdue’s Lunatic Bingo!”

    If you have 6 or more of the following, then it’s a Bill Perdue formulaic response. Lets see how you faired there Sister Mary:

    1. Bill called you a silly name.
    2. Bill made a sweeping political statement in the style of Leonid Brezhnev.
    3. Bill called you a conservative (This one is quite popular)
    4. Bill insists you are not who you say you are. e.g. by saying you are someone else, or not of the nationality you claim to be (also a popular one in Bill’s limited arsenal)
    5. Bill calls you a second stupid name, normally by means of an obscure reference or archaic term.
    6. Bill says your naive or blind.
    7. Bill accuse you of being in league with the BNP/Tory/Republican Party or some other conspiratorial conservative party,
    8. Bill says, in his infinite wisdom, that you’re and enemy of the supporters of gay equality, or simply you’re not gay.

    Looks like we have a winner there Sister Mary!

  20. edmund raphael-beldowski 14 Jun 2008, 12:53pm

    Indeed it is a great pity, that those who have organised this site with the best of intention, have had it sabotaged by the trivial, ‘literary’ antics of what is expected of over-zealous ‘gay’ men, in an attempt to engage in mindless and unproductive discourse with a another, who has offered her/his constructive opinions, whether they are the considered views of others who consult this site. That’s democratic debate, as is it’s usually understood, do believe.
    Freedom of speech is what every well balanced person seeks to achieve but this must be delivered in well-thought, truthful dialogue, never presuming the identity of another, unless factually researched. If one lets loose a barrage of self-concocted inaccuracy, let me suggest to you that this is absolutely the fodder to feed to those who are ‘anti gay’, such fatuous stupidity only serving to bolster their hugely undesirable cause.

    If one ever seeks to sufficiently impress another so as to alter that person’s confirmed belief, an attempt so to do by employing provocative language is, without a shadow of doubt, just exactly the wrong way of approaching such matters.

  21. I’ll start out by saying I’m gay, I’m not a supporter of the conservative party or the nazi movement, I’m very strongly against the death penalty and the present Iranian government.

    The first few commenters called the article author delusional, on medication and then made the nazi comparision – most often used by people who aren’t interested in listening to a viewpoint other than their own – the gay equivalent of a bigotted BNP member. We’ve struck Godwin’s law with the first comment – you can tell this isn’t going to go anywhere!

    Others criticise Pinknews for allowing an article that provides an alternate viewpoint to their own to be published. Gosh, you guys should go and live in a gated community with other people who wear the same clothes, eat the same food and have the same opinions – you’d be happy there.

    I’m another gay man who’s spent quite some time independently travelling (ie. by myself and not in a tour group) much of Iran, along with many other Middle Eastern, Asian and South American countries. I have a number of gay friends in Iran with whom I’ve kept in contact and a number of gay friends in the UK who’ve travelled around Iran, so I feel more qualified to comment than someone who obviously knows nothing about the place.

    I met (and spent many hours discussing life) with a good number of gay guys there. I met them via gaydar and in areas frequented by gay people [see google & lonely planet if you’re interested]. They claimed they were happy and able to carry out relationships as long as they were relatively discreet. Life is a lot harder in rural areas and gays there either have to be very careful or move to large cities. This is the same the world over – being a gay man in rural Wales or north Scotland is not overly pleasant either (I’m obviously not saying you’re going to be executed in Wales – just that you’re more likely to have to be hassled and feel pressured to not be yourself).

    I certainly wouldn’t want to live under the present Iranian regime either. Every single person I met there was critical of it, especially of the religious police who constantly hassle unmarried male/female couples who were hanging out in public (not that that stopped couples hanging out together). They said that things were slowly changing, especially as the huge youth popn (70% of popn are <30yrs) grows older. Everyone I asked said they didn’t want America to invade – they wanted the change to come from within. One woman couldn’t comprehend that I had no religion – I found that interesting.

    I certainly think equal rights for gay people will come to Iran. The youthful population and internet access will have a big influence on that.

    Under sharia law the gay sexual act has to be witnessed by 3 men in order for any punishment to take place. You face more persecution as an unmarried male/female couple (such couples are not permitted to be together in public, whereas it’s normal for men to walk hand in hand in public).

    The guys I met claimed they didn’t know of anyone who’d been put to death for gay sexual acts though had read the Western reports about the two boys. I’ve read on other websites that the 2 boys were put to death for theft and rape of a minor. I don’t know what story is true but lets face it, a picture of two pretty young boys about to be hanged is a perfect tool for a gay rights movements to use to manipulate people – regardless of whether their claims are true or not. Please provide some proof that they were actually put to death for gay sexual acts.

    Gay men are being put to death in Iran though I was told that it is less frequent than in the past. Of course this is absolutely appalling. As is being put to death for any reason – whether it’s murder or opposing Robert Mugabe. Please join Amnesty International and help to campaign against the death penalty everywhere.

    Asylum: I’m all for allowing valid asylum claims. The British government receives lots of asylum applications from people who aren’t really persecuted – basically economic migrants who want to move to the UK for a better living than the country they are in. This is why Afghanistani people go to Iran, Thais to Malaysia, Chinese to Europe, Pacific Islanders to Australia/NZ, Africans to Europe, Mexicans to America and so on.

    The British government has an Embassy in Tehran with FO staff and MI6 agents. They know what life is like on average for people living in Iran (see their extensive information web page on the country). Of course some men are executed, but I think in the worldwide scheme of things, life for gay men in Iran is considerably better than certain other groups who are applying for asylum. It would be interesting to hear from an asylum solicitor in the UK on their opinion on UK govt asylum policy. Anyway, I’m just saying I think the govt and Foreign Office officials are more informed and qualified to set policy than the uninformed Nazi accusers in this forum.

    Drugs/alcohol – I was offered alcohol and sex (straight & gay) throughout Iran. I’m sure this was because I was seen as a moneyed Westerner. I was told that drugs are commonly consumed in the (richer) northern side of Tehran. You can legally buy alcohol in Christian restarants as alcohol is only banned for muslims. I didn’t end up having any alcohol or drugs whilst in Iran. Given my UK alcohol consumption, it was quite refreshing to have a break. Life there felt a lot safer without alcohol being on general sale – families picnicking at 10pm at night in parks and so on.

    Some other facts I found surprising: due to the Iran/Iraq war, over 70% of the population is under 30. Iran has the highest middle-eastern population of Jews outside of Israel.

    As to websites – this seemed to be on an ISP basis, for example I was able to access at internet cafe A whereas it’d be blocked at cafe B but or would work. Similarly with other UK sites – you might find blocked but would work. I’m sure Iranians are easily able to get around such restrictions if they wish.

    I’ll certainly return to Iran to see how things have changed and to catch up with friends, but I’ve got a few other places I want to visit first. And I’ll need to replace my passport as it’s got Israeli stamps in it – which unfortunately prevents me from visiting a string of countries.

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