11 nations blast Iran’s record on LGBTI rights

Shadi Amin (Photo courtesy of Murmitoyen.com)
Shadi Amin (Photo courtesy of Murmitoyen.com)

Iran’s mistreatment of its LGBTI citizens came in for intense criticism during a recent United Nations review.

Among a total of 291 recommendations made to the Iranian government during the Oct. 31 review of the country’s human rights record — called a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) — 11 recommendations focused on the rights of sexual minorities, according to the Iranian lesbian and transgender network  6Rang.

Since Iran is wary of Western influences, it’s worth noting that those recommendations about the rights of Iran’s sexual minorities came from Argentina, Uruguay and Chile, as well as from Spain, Italy, Iceland, Denmark,  Canada, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Israel.

Nevertheless, Iran rejected the recommendations.  Mohammad Javad Larijani, the Iranian government’s human rights chief, said Iran would not “accept imposing a lifestyle under the banner or umbrella of human rights.”

Logo of 6Rang
Logo of 6Rang

Still, Shadi Amin, the coordinator of 6Rang, said, “For the Iranian LGBT community, the fact that their challenges were addressed at the international level and presented by various state members in order to hold the Islamic Republic responsible, is a significant victory.”

“We are delighted to see an increase both in the number and content of relevant recommendations compared to the previous UPR, when only three recommendations addressed the rights of the LGBT. The recommendations focused on issues of criminalization of same-sex relations as well as banning forced operations, procedures, torture and harassment of citizens based on their sexual orientation and gender identity,” she said.

Typical recommendations included, from Iceland to Iran:

  • Repealing laws that criminalise consensual same-sex sexual relations;
  • Amending laws and policies that treat homosexuality as a mental disorder;
  • Outlawing forced sterilisation and reparative therapies against LGBT individuals; and
  • Protecting LGBT people against torture and other ill-treatment.

Italy urged Iran to:

  • End discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and
  • Ensure that forced sterilisation does not take place on grounds of gender identity.

Larijani argued that Western countries had laws like Iran’s until recent decades:

“[Major] documents of human rights were adopted about 70 years ago but up to 20 years ago most of the Western community had in mind that homosexuality should be forbidden. Homosexuality was considered a disease.

Mohammad Javad Larija (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Mohammad Javad Larija (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

“Even in the United States, a genius in computer sciences, Alan Turing was indicted for homosexual tendencies in Los Angeles and he was forced to under go progesterone therapy to cure his disease.

“For this 50 years, nobody in the Western community said that homosexuality is against human rights — I mean the laws against homosexuality. Forbidding homosexuality was not considered in contradiction with laws of human rights. All of a sudden when homosexuality is becoming a fashion of the lifestyle in Western community, you are requesting every other state to follow your suit. This is a bad egocentrism.”

In this regard it must be noticed that also three Latin American countries, which are not considered as Western countries, recommended the Islamic Republic of Iran to stop execution of homosexuals and end discrimination against homosexuals during the UPR session.

6Rang noted that, in Iran, homosexuality is considered a crime. Iran is among five countries in the world that apply the death penalty to those engaging in same-sex relations. Likewise, other forms of sexual identity, including cross-dressing, are considered as crime and are punishable by lashing.

6Rang also noted that, during a TV interview prior to the UPR session, Larijani indicated he considers homosexuality a disease for which patients should be treated through “biological means.” This attitude describes the policy towards LGBT in Iran, which are systematically subject to forced treatment in order to become “normalized.”

Shadi Amin responded to Larijani’s remarks about Turing, who was forced by the British government to choose between imprisonment for his sexual orientation or hormone therapy. That hormone therapy resulted in his depression and eventual death under mysterious circumstances in 1954, she said.

“As of 1962 homosexuality is no longer considered a crime in the UK. In 2009 his memory was honored while in 2013 he was legally pardoned by the Queen, so Iran can no longer use crimes committed 70 years ago to justify its violations committed today,” she said. She added:

“The findings of research carried out by 6Rang points to the fact that in light of Iran’s medical approach to homosexuality many citizens are forced to seek ‘treatment’ and undergo sex change procedures that are carried out with substandard measures and lack of full and free consent of the recipients. The findings also show that the failure of legal protection against change of homosexuality results in the lack of enjoyment of accessing rights and escaping violence.”

Other recommendations to Iran during the UPR session focused on the rights of women, abolition of the death penalty, lack of rights for the Baha’i minority, child marriages, juvenile executions, lack of access to defense attorneys, abolition of torture and rights of ethnic minorities.

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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