Narratives and minority: Stories from lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals in Iran

And an overview on the prevalence of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) in Iran

Kameel Ahmady

Social Anthropologist, University of Kent



In recent years, sexual minority groups and individuals in the middle east have received minimal attention in the field of LGBTQ human rights. They have little voice or themselves and have been constantly judged on the basis of their sexual identity, orientation or practices stereotypes. This article aims to present and examine the existence of LGB individuals and judgmental thoughts about Iranian bisexuals, as well as critical response by bisexuals. In this study, over 400 individuals (60% male and 40% female) were interviewed using in-depth questioning in Iran’s three largest cities Tehran, Mashhad, and Isfahan. An analysis of sampling pattern of the study using the snowballing Grounded theory (GT) revealed that the population of LGB in Tehran with 4274 people was the biggest number followed by Mashhad, 2466 and Isfahan, 2171.

The awareness about one’s sex orientation was also studies and the data showed that in Tehran, 78.6%, whilst in Mashhad 66.6% and in Isfahan 100% of the Interviewees were aware of their sexual orientation during the puberty phase of their development. The acceptance of sex orientation by the LGB individuals was another studied factor which showed 92.8% of the respondents in Tehran, 100% of them in Mashhad and Isfahan have accepted homosexuality as their sexual orientation. Since the launch of LGBT campaigns in Iranian society and a more active presence in the media and social platforms increase the positive public image of LGBT people, changing the worldwide recognition of LGBT’s rights are demanded.

Key words: LGBT, LGBTQ, Homosexuality, Heterosexism Gay, Lesbian, Bio-sexual, Iran



LGBT usually refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, but it is sometimes referred to all gender or sexual minorities such as intersex, asexual or questioning. The World Health Organization has not considered homosexuality as a mental illness until 1992 [1]. The word ‘transgender’ is generally considered as a term encompassing transgender, gender nonconforming and transsexual identities. The distress attributed to mind-body gender incongruence is named ‘gender dysphoria’.

LGB adolescents in Iran experience widespread discrimination in every area of their lives based on their sexual orientation and real or perceived gender identity. This is primarily due to the provisions of the Iranian Penal Code, which penalizes homosexual sexual behavior, from flogging to the death penalty. These penalties apply to people under the age of 18 because the age of criminal responsibility in Iran is 9 lunar years for girls and 15 lunar years for boys.