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Iran’s stern, bizarre anti-homosexuality message

In Iran, where homosexual activity is punishable by death, political and religious leaders use a mix of old misunderstandings and new misconceptions as reasons to oppose basic human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

Former Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati (Photo courtesy of ISNA.ir)
Former Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati (Photo courtesy of ISNA.ir)

The two most recent Iranian denunciations of homosexuality came from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and from Ali Akbar Velayati, a former foreign minister who is a top adviser to Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Both men apparently have no personal knowledge or understanding of LGBT people.

At a conference about the Arab Spring, Velayati today not only parroted the time-worn notion that homosexuality and corruption are linked, but also made the newer, quite bizarre suggestion that the world’s 7 billion people ought to worry that homosexuality will somehow “bring human procreation to a halt.”

The condition of Western culture is “worrisome,” Velayati said, as reported by the Iranian Students’ News Agency in Persian. (I’m indebted for the translation to Hossein Alizadeh, Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.)

Velayati said:

“Corruption and decay are spreading all over the West. The moral degradation in the West is worsening by the day. … Homosexuality is driving Western family foundations into ruins.”

“They are bringing human procreation to a halt through their support and promotion of faggotry. How can one raise adopted kids in a family when both parents are men?”

Velayati hasn’t watched “Modern Family,” apparently.

Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Photo by Marcello Casal Jr. courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Photo by Marcello Casal Jr. courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

On Monday, Sept. 24, Ahmadinejad discussed homosexuality on “Piers Morgan Tonight,”  but he dodged a question about how he would feel if his son were born gay.  He insisted that homosexuality is a choice — a widespread belief that runs counter to scientific evidence.  An excerpt from CNN’s account of the interview:

“Shouldn’t freedom and individuality and all those things also extend to people who just happen to be gay? Who were born gay. They weren’t made gay,” says Morgan. “Wouldn’t it be great for the President of Iran to say you know something, everyone’s entitled to be whatever sexuality they are born to be? That would be a great symbol of freedom.”

“Do you really believe that someone is born homosexual?” says Iran’s 6th president, answering a question with one of his own. “I’m sorry. Let me ask you this. Do you believe that anyone is giving birth through homosexuality? Homosexuality ceases procreation. Who has said that if you like or believe in doing something ugly, and others do not accept your behavior, that they’re denying your freedom?”

“You are a father of three children,” the host continues. “You have two sons and a daughter, what would you do if one of them was gay?”

Speaking through a translator, the 55-year-old former engineer and teacher shares his perspective:

“Proper education must be given,” says Ahmadinejad. “If a group recognizes an ugly behavior or ugly deed as legitimate, you must not expect other countries or other groups to give it the same recognition.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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