Gay US state senator under ‘full surveillance’ during trip to Iran
Iran’s intelligence minister has insisted that his agents kept a visiting gay US state senator under “full surveillance” during a recent visit to the country.
Utah state senator Jim Dabakis visited Iran in September, prompting concerns within Iraq of a security breach, which the intelligence minister has defended himself against.
Mahmoud Alavi made the announcement in an open session of Iran’s parliament today amid criticism from hard-line Iranian politicians.
He insisted that Jim Dabakis was under “full surveillance” during his six-day visit in September.
The intelligence minister also questioned why there had not been similar criticism when Dabakis visited for 15 days in 2010 during the administration of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Dabakis says that he visited the country as a private citizen, having been invited by an Iranian official, but his trip sparked concerns because Iranian officials say his visa application did not declare that he holds elected office in the US.
“There was nothing nefarious about it,” Dabakis said last month. “I got an invitation and a visa and I went and talked about Utah and invited a delegation here and another delegation in May of another group of Utahns [to visit Tehran]. I’m not sure that’s on anymore.
“I think it has something to do with the internal political affairs in Iran,” he said of the controversy. “I’m just glad I got out.”
Iran has some of the strictest anti-LGBT laws in the world, and ‘homosexual conduct’ is punishable by fines, public flogging or even execution.
In August Iran executed a teenage boy after he was convicted of raping another boy, though activists argued that he was really killed simply for being gay.
Earlier this year Dabakis made headlines by sneezing for three minutes straight in order to filibuster an anti-LGBT amendment in Utah