U.S. envoy urges condemnation of Iran's hanging of man for homosexuality

The US envoy, Richard Grenell, wrote on his Twitter feed on Sunday: "Many of our European allies have Embassies in Tehran. This barbaric act must not go unanswered. Speak up."

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January 30, 2019 22:09
3 minute read.
iran gay

A demonstration against Iran's violation of gay rights during the Christopher Street Day (CSD) gay pride parade in Berlin [File]. (photo credit: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP)

 
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The US ambassador to Germany called on European countries with diplomats in the Islamic Republic of Iran to condemn the January public hanging of a man who was found guilty of violating the country’s lethal anti-gay law.

On Sunday, US envoy Richard Grenell wrote on his Twitter feed: “Many of our European allies have Embassies in Tehran. This barbaric act must not go unanswered. Speak up.”

The powerful American ambassador, who is widely considered the go-to envoy in Europe for the Trump administration, was responding to an article in The Jerusalem Post on Saturday that reported Iran’s hanging of the 31-year-old man. Grenell retweeted the Post’s tweet on the execution the same day, with the comment: “This should be widely condemned. By everyone. It’s outrageous and barbaric.”

According to a Bild article on Wednesday, Germany’s foreign ministry couched its statement in reserved terms, issuing a general condemnation of capital punishment. The German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, is currently working to implement a financial mechanism termed the Special Purpose Vehicle to evade US sanctions against Iran and boost trade with the Islamic republic. The sanctions apply to Tehran’s human rights violations.

Iran’s state-controlled Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) reported in Farsi that an unidentified man was hanged on January 10 in the southwestern city of Kazeroon, based on criminal violations of “lavat-e be onf” – sexual intercourse between two men, as well as kidnapping charges, according to ISNA. Iran’s radical Sharia law system prescribes the death penalty for gay sex.

The news agency reported that the 31-year-old man kidnapped two 15-year-olds, but did not provide additional information on their abduction. It is unclear from the ISNA report whether or not their is a connection between the kidnapping charges and the conviction of homosexuality.

ISNA wrote that, “the citizens of Kazeroon expressed satisfaction and thanked the judiciary” after the public hanging.


Peter Tatchell – a leading British human rights activist who has played a key role in advancing rights for the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) community – wrote on Twitter: “Iran has publicly hanged a 31-year-old man for violating anti-gay laws & other alleged crimes. It is not known whether the charges were true or trumped up to discredit the victim.”

In its report about the hanging of the man, the British online news agency Gay Star News wrote on Twitter: “This needs to stop.” Gay Star reported in its article that the Iranian human rights lawyer Mehri Jafari, who is based in the UK, said “We don’t believe the trial to be fair” because of the lack of due process in Iran’s opaque judicial system.

Jafari said that: “The gay community needs to react and clarify this is not a gay case. It’s about the reputation of the gay community. Gay people are not kidnappers or child abusers.” She added: “In Iran, it’s so important to clarify this because there’s so much pre-judgment. The danger is very real.”

A 2008 British Wikileaks dispatch revealed that the Islamic Republic of Iran has executed between 4,000 and 6,000 gays and lesbians since the Islamic revolution in 1979.

Grenell, the most senior openly gay official serving in the Trump administration, told the Washington Examiner that: “I get messages every day from people inside Iran – [who] are Christian or gay or have some other hardship – in which they tell me their concerns on how they can’t live normally because of their fears of the government.”

Iran’s former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech at New York’s Columbia University in 2007: “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who has told you we have that.”

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