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Iran: “It’s a great honor to violate homosexuals’ rights”

Iran has a reputation for being intensely homophobic, and a new study of Iranian officials’ remarks about homosexuals shows why. “Lower than animals”, “savagery”, “subhuman”, “corrupt”, “diseased”, “western” and “Zionist” are among the terms that Iranian officials use to describe LGBT people.

The study by the Iranian lesbian and transgender network 6Rang analyzed Iranian officials’ published remarks over the past six year. In a briefing that took its  provocative title from remarks by a former member of parliament, 6Rang reported:

Consistent and widespread official hate speech against LGBT People in Iran

Logo of 6Rang, the Iranian lesbian and transgender network.
Logo of 6Rang, the Iranian lesbian and transgender network.

18 December 2017 – A new briefing published by Iranian Lesbian & Transgender Network 6Rang outlines the consistent and widespread use of hate speech against LGBT people in Iran by Iranian officials; including the supreme leader, military officials, Friday prayer leaders, high-level state officials, and state controlled media outlets.

The briefing “It’s a great honor to violate homosexuals’ rights”: Official hate speech against LGBT people in Iran’ has monitored the content of newspapers and state controlled media between 2011 and 2017, and provides an overview of the Iranian authorities’ hate speech on homosexuality during these years.

The 27-page briefing includes shocking official statements, describing homosexuals and homosexuality on official platforms as “lower than animals”, “savagery”, “subhuman”, “corrupt”, “diseased”, “western” and “Zionist”. These examples are just the tip of the iceberg of a discourse that promotes and justifies hate and violence against LGBT people in the family, society, and in educational, judicial and law enforcement institutions.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Photo courtesy of Khamenei's office via Pinterest)
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (Photo courtesy of Khamenei’s office via Pinterest)

For example, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, in one of his many remarks about homosexuality has said “If we were to presume that human desires legitimize hamjensbazi [faggotry] then someone could also have the desire to commit incest and they should face no impediment. In principle, all impediments would then have to be removed.”

Mehrdad Bazrpash, a former Member of Parliament and a former deputy to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said in March 2012 in responses to criticisms accusing Iran of homophobia that “it is a great honour for the Islamic Republic to violate the rights of homosexuals.” The report also quotes Iranian parliamentarian Ali Motahari as asking “why the West is moving toward animalism, and promoting affairs such as homosexuality that go against the human nature?”

This briefing asserts that Iranian state officials’ hate speech against LGBT people is a clear violation of international human rights law and standards, specifically the principle of non-discrimination.

Shadi Amin, 6Rang Coordinator says: “An official culture of violence and intolerance against human diversities has been promoted in the past four decades in Iran, without any resistance against such widespread hatred.”

“This brief shows us where the roots of widespread homophobia among Iranians – as seen in mainstream and social media – lie,” Amin says.

In this briefing which has been submitted to relevant international entities, 6Rang urges influential members of the international community to hold the Iranian government accountable for spreading hatred against LGBT people, which is in violation of Iran’s international obligations.

Mehrdad Bazrpash, a former Member of Parliament and a former deputy to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, ni 2012:
Mehrdad Bazrpash, a former Member of Parliament and a former deputy to then Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in 2012: “It is a great honor for the Islamic Republic to violate the rights of homosexuals.” (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

6Rang also urges media, educational institutions, medical professionals and civil society groups in Iran and elsewhere to take up the concerns raised in this report, and mobilize their resources to address stigma, discrimination and stereotypes based on sexual orientation and gender identity and combat attitudes and statements by government officials that promote violence, discrimination and hostility toward LGBT people.

Read the full briefing here.

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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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