On the heels of a short-lived LGBT-friendly commentary on Iran’s popular Nameh News website, an Iranian government-supported website has published rules against its readers posting comments that are homophobic.
It’s not clear how long the Press TV comment policy has been online. The policy states, “Do not post any content which could be construed as hate speech – this includes racism, sexism, homophobia, and other such content which may advocate bigotry.”
One of this blog’s readers speculated, “Iran accidentally plagiarised a comment policy forbidding homophobia.” That interpretation makes sense, since similar or identical policies appear on a variety of websites, including those of the New Jersey Tea Party, Veterans News Now, and the Canadian financial website MunKNEE.
There’s no evidence that Press TV has become a supporter of human rights for LGBT people. The Tehran-based news organization service presents “basically the Islamic Republic of Iran’s worldview,” having been established “to counter the news coverage that appears on broadcasts such those of BBC World News, CNN International and Al Jazeera English,” in the words of Wikipedia.
Recent articles on Press TV have included:
- An interview with an anti-Israel commentator who discusses “George Soros and the identity politics dividing people … through gay politics, lesbian politics, queer politics.”
- An interview with an anti-American commentator who describes the United States as “the paragon of a kind of a godless social order based on, you know, gay rights and things like this.”
Press TV has not yet responded to an email asking whether they intend to enforce the anti-homophobia policy, especially in light of recently published comments on an article about an investigation of whether the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom misused public funds for a function that was advertised on a gay dating website. Those comments included:
- “Gay means someone with mental illness and should be cured NOT spread.”
- “Go back in the closet and lock the door. Tired of your antics.”
- “The gay mafia that makes up UK and USA tv is behind the destruction of a mans right to a private and family life.”
- “When two are more Tories are together it IS a gay party.”
- “If they haven’t got their hands in the till they’ve got them on some poor kid’s privates.”
Press TV’s own description of itself is that it heeds “the often neglected voices and perspectives of a great portion of the world” while “embracing and building bridges of cultural understanding.”
In Iran, same-sex intimacy is punishable by death, and many gay men and lesbians have pursued sex-change surgery in order to shield themselves from the country’s harsh anti-gay laws. This year and last year in Iran:
- Iranian poet and writer Payam Feili, who had been harassed, blacklisted, and arrested for being gay, was forced into exile for alluding to same-sex relations in his work.
- At least 17 people faced charges related to “homosexuality and satanism” after a Revolutionary Guard Corps raid on a birthday party in Kermanshah, an Iranian village near the border with Iraq.
- The secretary of Iran’s High Council for Human Rights told the United Nations, “In our country, homosexuality is a form of sickness and a wrong behavior that can be punished.”