Iran arrests 17 in crackdown on 'homosexuals, satanists'

Oct. 9 arrests in Kermanshah, Iran (Photo courtesy of Mehr News Agency)
A reported 17 alleged homosexuals were arrested Oct. 8 in Kermanshah, Iran (Photo courtesy of Mehr News Agency)

Iran’s revolutionary guards say they have arrested “a network of homosexuals and satanists” in Kermanshah, western Iran.

The suspects, including four reported gay couples, were apparently arrested in the midst of a birthday party, where they were wearing rainbow bracelets and dancing.

“Authorities in the Islamic republic have previously likened homosexuals to satanists in an apparent attempt to further smear them in the eyes of the country’s religious conservatives,” the Guardian explained in its news report.

Click on the image for the blog's list of people in prison or awaiting trial for homosexuality.
Click on the image for the blog’s list of people in prison or awaiting trial for homosexuality. After the Oct. 8 arrests in Iran, the current totals are 36 in prison and 17 awaiting trials.

The Guardian said at least 17 people were arrested, “prompting fresh alarm over the treatment of gay people in the Islamic republic”:

The news website of the revolutionary guards in Kermanshah province, home to the country’s Kurd ethnic minority, reported on Thursday that their elite forces had dismantled what it claimed to be a network of homosexuals and devil-worshippers.

A number of foreign nationals, including Iraqis, were also among those detained, the report said, adding that eight of the group were married to each other.

The group were picked up from one of the city’s ceremony halls, which they had rented for a birthday party. The guards’ webiste said they were dancing as the raid ensued.

The revolutionary guards claimed the group had been under surveillance for some time but did not specify how many people were arrested. …

The Guardian has been informed that the raid took place on Tuesday night when some 80 people, including both straight and gay Iranians, had gathered for a birthday party in Kermanshah. At least 17 people who had tattoos, make-up, or were wearing rainbow bracelets were blindfolded and taken to an unknown location, according to a local source. Partygoers were filmed by the elite forces and had their mobile phones confiscated.

The Trend news agency, which is based in Azerbaijan, reported the news and added as background that

Iranian security forces arrested 104 “devil worshipers” during a party in the southern city of Shiraz in 2009.

In 2008, Iran announced that it would launch a crackdown on “indecent Western-inspired movements” such as rappers and satanists.

Homosexual activity in Iran can lead to the death penalty, but the Guardian reported some changes in the law:

Official treatment of gay people varies dramatically depending on where they are arrested and who by. Those arrested in provincial cities like in Kermanshah, are usually under more pressure.

Until recently same-sex sodomy was punishable by death but a new amendment to the penal code, approved in 2012, has brought new changes. Under the new penal code, in effect, the person who played an active role will be flogged 100 times if the sex was consensual and he was not married, but the one who played a passive role will still be put to death regardless of his marriage status. Punishment for mosahegheh (lesbianism) is 100 lashes for all individuals involved, but it can lead to the death penalty if the act is repeated four times.

In recent years, it appears that the government and the police has maintained the policy of ignoring gay people but the revolutionary guards and the informal voluntary Basij religious militia, who are independent of the government but close to the country’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have been active tracking down gays and punishing them.

In the past, some reports of LGBT arrests and punishments in Iran have proven to be misleading.  For example, four men executed in 2012 allegedly for consensual homosexual sex apparently were rapists.

For more information, read the full Guardian article “Iran arrests ‘network of homosexuals and satanists’ at birthday party.”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]


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