Ten young Iranian men, including eight teenagers, are currently awaiting execution for sodomy, and two more are being re-tried on the same capital charge. And, in an exclusive interview with Gay City News, an Iranian student gay rights activist confirmed for the first time the existence of queer organizing on multiple university campuses throughout Iran.
The information about the ten youths currently under sentence of death for sodomy (lavaat in Persian) was released on November 25 in a joint appeal by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), the Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO), and COC of the Netherlands, the world's oldest LGBT rights group, founded in 1946. The three organizations called on Western countries "with significant diplomatic and economic ties to Iran, including Germany, France, Canada, as well as the European Union, to pursue diplomatic efforts to cease these executions."
It is extremely difficult to obtain information about death penalty cases involving homosexuality under today's repressive theocratic regime in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where the press is heavily censored and journalists, regime critics, and human rights advocates are routinely persecuted and arrested and where the subject of same-sex relations is officially considered a political and religious taboo. Defendants in sodomy cases are denied open trials. Last month, Human Rigths Watch, basing its finding on an Iranian newspaper report, told of the execution of two men for sodomy.
Most of the new information about the 12 defendants now threatened with execution for sodomy was provided by lawyers and activists with the Committee of Human Rights Reporters (CHHR) in Iran, according to Hossein Alizadeh, the Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for IGLHRC, while contacts in Iran provided by IRQO yielded additional information, he told Gay City News.
CHRR, founded in 2005, has become one of the most important sources of information about human rights violations in Iran and recently became the first Iranian human rights organization to officially recognize the LGBT rights struggle by creating a Queer Committee to deal with persecution of sexual minorities. ("Queer" is the translation preferred by Alizadeh and other gay Iranians for the Persian word degar-bash, a term meaning "different" and which embraces gays, lesbians, and transpeople.)
Published on December 10, 2009 | OutRight Action International an LGBT human rights organization