Iranian LGBT activists at Istanbul’s 9th annual Gay Pride celebration unveiled a study conducted on human rights violations against LGBT people of Iran.

6rang’s coordinator Shadi Amin, former Iran justice researcher Raha Bahreyin, and ‘Roma,’ an Iranian citizen working at LambdaIstanbul LGBT solidarity association, spoke at the panel ‘No to mandatory sex changes!” held in Istanbul on Thursday. There they discussed the three-year study on the experiences of 88 gay, lesbians and trans people in Iran, which is centered on Iran’s human rights violations and mandatory sex reassignment laws.

The study, “Pathologizing Identities, Paralyzing Bodies,” focuses on the negative psychological, physical, legal, medical and social experiences of LGBT individuals in Iran and the religious and cultural influence on these practices.

Iranian law criminalises consensual same-sex relations. Homosexuality and transgender-identified individuals are told by medical health professionals that they suffer from Gender Identity Disorders (GID), and must be “treated with ‘reparative’ therapies or sex reassignment.”

The study suggests the causes for the implementation of mandatory gender reassignment laws stem from, some Shiia hadiths [teachings and sayings], which state: “true manhood and womanhood is inherently defined by opposite-sex attraction; a true man is one who is attracted to women and a true woman is one who is attracted to men,” and the deeply rooted cultural gender binary in Iran.

Turkey, as a neighbor of Iran, has become a safe haven for many LGBT Iranians fleeing persecution. Turkey is the first country with a significant Muslim population to hold Pride each year.

LGBT individuals fleeing Iran into neighboring countries still face many challenges due to their sexual orientation and refugee status.