BERLIN – Human rights activists from international organizations ramped up their
pressure in a late December letter to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, calling
on him to swiftly end Iran’s persecution of its lesbian, bisexual, gay, and
The letter cited the Iran Revolutionary Guards
Corps arresting gay Iranians at a birthday party in October as one example of a
list of violent attacks against LGBT Iranians. According to the letter, 50
members of the Nabi Akram Brigade of the Revolutionary Guards stormed the party
in the city of Kermanshahin in western Iran. “Armed members of the security
forces verbally abused, assaulted, and beat many of the 80 or so people
attending the party, as well as waiters and other staff.”
Province’s Basij Forces – a state-sponsored shock troop – issued a statement
that their aim was to end a “homosexual and Satan-worshiping network with dozens
The signatories of the letter to Rouhani are from Human
Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the International Gay and Lesbian Human
Rights Commission, and the Iranian Queer Organization-IRQO.
Iran for its Islamic Penal Code.
The anti-gay code “criminalizes any
freely and mutually agreed same-sex relations, with punishment ranging from 100
lashes for consensual sexual relations between women (Article 239) to the death
penalty for consensual sexual intercourse between men (Article 234). The law
also criminalizes other acts between members of the same sex, including touching
and intimate kissing, which are punishable by up to 74 lashes (Article
The human rights representatives called on Iran to repeal its
anti-LGBT laws. It is unclear whether Rouhani responded to the
“Nothing essential has changed. The structure is still the same.
It’s a play, a comic and ugly performance. They’re relying on the naiveté of
people to be able to succeed,” said the openly gay Iranian poet Payam Feili last
year about Rouhani’s tenure.
According to the human rights letter,
Rouhani made an election promise to grant greater individual freedoms to
Iranians and end the heavy-handed repression of his predecessor, Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad. Western indifference to Iran’s repression of its LGBT community was
the subject on an editorial in a large LGBT publication in Germany. Siegessäule
magazine recently asked why the LGBT community in the West ignores the plight of
Iran’s LGBT community.