(photo credit: Morteza Nikoubazi/Reuters)
The Iranian judiciary this week upheld the death penalty for four men convicted
of sodomy, according to the Human Rights Activists News Agency
The agency distributes reports in Persian from human rights
reporters throughout Iran.
According to the report, the four men – named
as Saadat Arefi, Vahid Akbari, Javid Akbari, and Houshmand Akbari, all from the
city of Charam in Iran’s remote southeastern province of Kohgiluyeh and
Boyer-Ahmad – were convicted of sodomy (“lavat
” in Farsi).
to male same-sex relations and in Iranian law is defined as “an act of congress
between males whether in the form of penetration or the rubbing of
Under the Iranian legal system, which is based on Shi’a Islamic
law but retains aspects of civil law, eight crimes including murder, rape, drug
trafficking and sodomy can be capital offenses.
Under Islamic penal law,
sodomy – like rape and adultery – is a “hadd
” crime (from the Arabic word
meaning “limit”). In cases where penetration has occurred, and where both
partners are “mature, of sound mind, and acted of free will,” lavat is
punishable by death, usually hanging.
Human rights and gay activists
slammed the ruling.
In an email to The Jerusalem Post
on Tuesday, David
Keyes, executive director of the NGO Advancing Human Rights, wrote: “When the
Iranian president came to New York, he said there were no gays in Iran, but four
men are about to be hung in Iran for being gay. Putting someone to death for
their sexual preference tells you everything you need to know about the Iranian
UK gay online media outlet Pink News cited Iranian human
rights lawyer Mehri Jafari as saying he was “horrified and saddened” by the
events. “Not only with regards to the execution which is about to take place,
but the fact that is beyond our control,” he said.
Jafari noted that the
province where the four defendants are from, Kohgiluyeh and Boyer- Ahmad, is one
of the most undeveloped in Iran.
“It is obvious that a lack of access to
lawyers and a fair trial can be considered a serious issue in this case,” he
said. “After this announcement it is very likely that the execution will
be carried out soon, and the remote location makes it difficult to exert any
influence on the process.”
Stuart Appelbaum, a leading US gay rights
activists and head of the Jewish Labor Committee, called for protests against
the Iranian court ruling.
“Civilized people throughout the world must
stand up and let their voices be heard about this barbarism and inhumanity –
regardless of their views on gay rights.
“We must demand that Iran
prevent these murders from occurring. Anything less diminishes our own
humanity,” Appelbaum told the Post.
Gay Israeli journalist Yoav Sivan
told the Post
that European countries should “show leadership” about Tehran’s
treatment of homosexuals.
Jayson Littman, founder of the gay pro-Israel
organization Out! for Israel called on the the international LGBT (lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender) activist community to highlight “the persecution of
LGBT people in all areas of the Middle East, specifically Iran,” and to help gay
Iranians fleeing the regime find asylum in the West.