No Homosexuals In Iran

Jim Burroway

April 7th, 2008

Last September, Iranian President Maumoud Ahmadinejad told a gathering at Columbia University, “We don’t have homosexuals… I don’t know who told you we had it.” Oh, how we laughed for days.

San Francisco activist Michael Petrelis noticed last week that the Human Rights Watch appears to be saying the same thing:

If the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, became interested in what the Human Rights Watch had to say in their Iran section of their latest annual World Report about homosexuals in his country, and the abuse of human rights for gays there, shockingly, he’d find nothing in that section.

HRW, for unknown reasons, omits gays not just from their 2007 country roundup, but actually from the 2006, 2005, and 2004 versions.

Sure enough. The report, while detailing the general deterioration in Iran’s observance of human rights, there is no mention of the continuing brutal punishments and executions of gays and lesbians in that country.

It’s as if gays and lesbians don’t exist there. Except this time it’s not so funny.

Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni


April 7th, 2008

Like nearly everyone else, you took Ahmadinejad’s quote of context by ignoring what’s inside the ellipsis. He said, “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country.” That was a true statement and the media’s reaction is just a lacking of cross cultural understanding. I’ve heard two or three gay Iranians talk on the subject and they all agree the statement is accurate. The key is “homosexuals like those in your country.” There are homosexuals, but they’re not like American homosexuals. They don’t look for acceptance, marriage, children, pride, or even romantic relationships. They’re underground and end up choosing to marry heterosexually.

No wonder they don’t show up in statistics.


April 7th, 2008

They don’t look for acceptance, marriage, children, pride, or even romantic relationships.

I think I’d take exception to that as well, as it discounts numerous Iranian asylum seekers and Iranian gays who have attempted to organize.

I think a more plausible reason has to do with the legal classifications used; i.e., where other “morals” charges are used as the primary charge, but for the intent of LGBT persecution.

In other words: no execution specifically for homosexualty rather than some other trumped up charge, no persecution.

What I find odd is HRW’s lack of mentioning even that in their reports.

The lack of discussing this in their reports is even stranger when given HRW Scott Long’s (Director: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program for HRW) editorial in the UK press where he makes the argument: “…that with a law prescribing death or torture for gay Iranians, they need not demonstrate the details of past persecution.”


April 7th, 2008

Jim, I’m more familiar with the the “International Gay and Lesbian Association, Daniel Ottosson, Södertörn University College Stockholm, Sweden” report on State-Sponsored Homophobia (2007) and the USDOS 2007 Human Rights Reports. So I don’t know if HRW made no mention of even the current 1991 laws on the books regarding same sex involvements. The impression I’ve had from reading such articles and posts as you mention is that HRW failed to even mention the laws. I guess I’ll need to try to find the HRW reports to see if they even mention the active laws.

Nonetheless, I still find it odd that HRW wouldn’t have had more discussion on the subject regarding their involvement in the UK and the Netherlands regarding pending Iranian asylum claims and their advocacy for such grants of asylum to be made.


April 7th, 2008

The key is “homosexuals like those in your country.” There are homosexuals, but they’re not like American homosexuals. They don’t look for acceptance, marriage, children, pride, or even romantic relationships.

Ephilei, if what you meant to say above is that their is no organized or overtly open advocacy within Iran for those things by Iranian gays, then I would take less of an exception to the original comment. As that, given current Iranian laws would make any form of open advocacy or open attempts at group association within Iran for the things you mention, a form of suicide. I do not think it accurate to say that Iranian gays do not desire those things, because again, that discounts the stories of the gay asylum seekers as well as Iranian gays already living outside of the country who have organized where it’s safe for them to do so, on behalf of gays still within Iran.

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