Human rights violations in Iran
Iran’s penal laws against homosexuality grossly violate and carry on violating numerous basic universal human rights. In October 2017, Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, UN special rapporteur on human rights in Iran, stated that Iran’s penal system fails to conform to international human rights standards because it, for example, classifies homosexuality as a capital offense.
In 2010, Human Rights Watch published a study on homosexuals and other sexual minorities’ circumstances in Iran. Human Rights Watch reported that because the courts’ investigations of “morale issues” are not public, it was problematic to determine with precision how many people have been executed because of same-sex relationships. Amnesty International estimated that since 1979 about 5000 people have been executed because of same-sex relationships The UN Special Rapporteur Asma Jahangir, in her second report on the situation of human rights in Iran covering the period January 1 – June 31, 2017, drew on information from a number of experts and civil society sources, including the Abdorrahman Boroumand Foundation, to describe Iran’s “serious human rights challenges.” She noted that Iranian law continues to permit capital punishment for homosexuality. Jehangir criticized the Iranian’s Judicial System in her report and condemned the imposition of the death penalty for the crime of homosexuality that is considered illegal in Iran.
Her influential comments have exposed the prevailing harsh circumstances Lesbian Gays and Bisexual in Iran individuals face in Iran and have also given a ray of hope that efforts are in process to bring peace and comfort in LGBT’s marginalized lives.
Iran is one of the seven countries in the world that still employs the death penalty for homosexuality With respect to executions in general, Iran also has the largest number of executions of any country proportional to its population. Only China executed more people in sheer numbers than Iran.
Overall, in 2009, Iran executed 388 people.
Between 2010 and 2014, executions rose dramatically with a total of at least 3,242 executions.
Iran continues to execute juveniles despite being a signatory to various human rights treaties and instruments. In 2007, Iran executed eight juvenile offenders. In 2008 and 2009, it was the only country to carry out executions of minors, in violation of its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In 2013 and 2014, Iran carried out at least 11 juvenile executions. And these are the one we are aware of.
In 2014 two men, Abdullah Ghavami Chahzanjiru and Salman Ghanbari Chahzanjiri, were hung in southern Iran on August 6 possibly for consensual sodomy.
It is uncertain whether or not they were executed for being gay or merely smeared with homosexuality as there are conflicting stories: one Iranian source said they were, another source was vague about their “crimes” but called them “immoral villains. In 2011 three Iranian men were executed after being found guilty of charges related to homosexuality.
The men, only identified by their initials, were hung in the South-western city of Ahvaz, the capital of Iran’s Khuzestan province. A judiciary official publically stated that the three convicts were sentenced to death based on acts against Sharia law and “bad deeds”. Iran Human Rights Organization based in Norway, said the men were charged with Lavat, sexual intercourse between two men.
In 2007 it was announced that 20 criminals would be hung in Tehran on a variety of charges, including rape and sodomy.
No further details of the case were made public.
In 2005 the highly publicized and public executions of two teenage boys, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, who were hung in public for their alleged involvement in sodomy and rape, brought to the surface the unpredictability and harshness of Iran’s draconian view of homosexuality.
There are disturbing and flinching photos of the hangings that were widely distributed on the Internet. Both teenagers were juveniles at the time of the offense, and one was believed to have been a juvenile at the time of his execution. It is still uncertain whether or not the dual executions were carried out specifically because of their homosexuality
. To this day, the facts on the charges against them were based are obscure and inconclusive.
Similarly, a teenage boy named Makwan Moloudzadeh was found guilty of Lavat (sodomy rape) and executed for raping three teenage boys when he was 13, even though all witnesses retracted their accusations and Moloudzade withdrew a confession. Normally as a minor the death penalty would not be applicable.
There was an international outcry and a nullification of the death sentence by Iranian Chief Justice Ayatollah Syedxecut.
The planned execution was a violation of two international treaties signed by Iran that outlaw capital punishment for crimes committed by minors, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Nevertheless, Moloudzadeh was hung without his family or his attorney being informed until after the fact.
In 2016 Amnesty International reported that Iran had executed Hassan Afshar, a 19-year-old who was arrested in December 2014 when he was 17 years old. Amnesty also reported that during the two month trial, he lacked access to a lawyer. Although Afshar was accused of forcing another teen to have gay sex, he maintained that the sex was consensual and the victim had willingly engaged in gay sex. Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Program Director at Amnesty International has stated that Iran has proven its sickening enthusiasm for putting juveniles to death, in contravention of international law, knows no bounds.
Any discussions on Iran’s sexual minorities and their social plights and day to day experiences, mandates a comprehensive insight into the dual societal context of religion and law that are often directed towards this silent and often terrified community. This would also include an examination of web of Iran’s patriarchal social and cultural infrastructures that highly influence religion and laws. The issue of sexual orientation in Iran is a complicated maze of intricacies and unknown territories that has undermined the social lives of many sexual minorities in Iran. Although most of the international community has acknowledged a spectrum of sexual orientations that has gone beyond biological definitions, in Iranian society sexual orientations are viewed as an aberration. As aptly stated “There is no dialogue, no discussion about us or our lives. Iranian LGBT lives behind closed doors and high walls.” This lack of acknowledgement is due to Iran’s unacceptance of sexual minorities firmly rooted in its long-lasting norms, resistant traditions and most importantly in the powerful role of religion. This has of course made any effort to shed light on the issue even more difficult.
Read more: Migration and Gender for Iranian LGBT