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Iranian aide who shared cartoon of loving same-sex parents faces up to ten years in prison for ‘homosexual propaganda’

Emma Powys Maurice July 19, 2020
Iranian aide

Former Iranian aide Shahindokht Molaverdi was condemned for "promoting" homosexuality (YouTube/AP Archive)/

The former aide for women’s and family affairs in Iran has been charged with “spreading moral corruption” in the form of a cartoon depicting loving LGBT+ families.

The Iranian news outlet Rah-e Dana reported on Monday (July 13) that an indictment had been issued for Shahindokht Molaverdi. She was charged with “propaganda against the regime”, “encouraging corruption and prostitution” and “providing classified information and documents to disrupt national security.”

Under Article 639 of the Islamic Penal Code, anyone who encourages or incites people to moral corruption or depravity is sentenced to one to ten years in prison.

When the story broke Molaverdi was not aware of the charges, and she wrote an open letter to the head of Iran’s Judiciary demanding to know why the news had been leaked to the media before she was informed.

She protested that a website close “to a military outfit” can be privy to a legal case while the accused is totally in the dark, Radio Farda reported.

The charges stem from a public message Molaverdi sent on her Telegram account on May 15. She shared a UN poster to mark the International Day of Families which featured a simple illustration depicting several families, including two same-sex couples with children.

Beneath it the caption read: “The structure of family has changed in the past few decades, but the United Nations still considers it as the main division of society”, adding that it is important to “support vulnerable families at times of crisis.”

The fact that Molaverdi shared this sentiment on an official channel sparked outrage in the strictly conservative Muslim nation, which punishes homosexuality with the death penalty.

Mashregh News published screenshots of the post and declared that “Molaverdi has published a post on her Telegram that depicts the deviant and reprehensible homosexual families made up of two women and a child and two men and a child.”

Under heavy pressure from religious hardliners, Molaverdi was forced to remove the controversial post and issue an apology for “inadvertently republishing” it.

Unfortunately it wasn’t enough to resolve the controversy and the country’s intelligence, security and law enforcement bodies have reportedly moved to prosecute her for the “crime”.

Some influential social media profiles have threatened her with the same fate that Lot’s wife meets for promoting homosexuality. In Islamic tradition she was killed by the falling rocks, while in the Bible she was turned into a pillar of salt.

More: criminalisation of homosexuality, Iran, Islamic Penal Code, Shahindokht Molaverdi

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