Ahmadinejad’s gay comments lost in translation
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) has discovered that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s official website does not provide a Persian version of his recent comments on homosexuality in the country.
The site provides a full and complete transcript in English of his speech to students at Colombia University in New York and the question and answer session afterwards in which he claimed that there are no gay people in Iran and homosexuality does not exist in the country.
However, the Persian transcript is missing both the question about treatment of lesbians and gay men in Iran and President Ahmadinejad’s response.
“In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals, like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who’s told you that we have it.”
The President’s website purportedly provides the authoritative transcripts of his speeches and is relied upon by the news media in Iran.
To date, not a single Persian-language media outlet in Iran, including Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, and the semi-independent news agencies, ISNA, Mehrrnews and Farsnews, and the Wednesday morning newspapers, has reported on the President’s comments.
“The first reaction of many of us was to join in the astonished response to President Ahmadinejad’s clearly outrageous view that no lesbian or gay people live in Iran,” said Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of IGLHRC.
“But the whitewashing of his comments from the eyes and ears of most Iranian citizens speaks to something more troubling.
“His denial attempts to simply erase from public view the lives of men and women who face regular abuse in his country. Perhaps he knows he could not credibly get away with such a denial among his own people.”
IGLHRC has documented widespread and systemic violations of the rights of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Iran.