Iran to execute 4 men accused of homosexual acts
New report of 4 men to be executed in Iran under accusations of sodomy. Iran, which is one of seven countries that continue to impose the death penalty for homosexuality, has been criticized the world over for human rights record, as attested to by a forthcoming report from the Peter Tatchell Foundation
The week that will lead up to the International Day Against Homophobia (May 17) started with chilling news from Iran’s Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA). According to the site, four men from Choram, in the south-west province of Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad, have been convicted of sodomy and could be hanged “soon” in accordance with the sentence provided by Iran’s strict Shari’a laws.
The men convicted, Saadat Arefi, Vahid Akbari, Javid Akbari and Houshmand Akbari were named in the HRANA post, but details as to what evidence weighed on them and the circumstances of their charges are scant.
Reacting to the case, London-based human rights lawyer Mehri Jafari told PinkNews “There are two important issues in this case: the location of the alleged occurrence and the interpretation of the Shari’a law that a Hodud (strict Sharia punishment) is eminent.”
Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad is described as one of the more remote and “undeveloped” Iranian provinces, which means that exerting pressure to stay the sentences is considered difficult. It is also unlikely, Jafari intimated, that the men had access to adequate legal representation during their trial.
The legal status of homosexuality in Iran is such that those accused of consensual sodomy are considered to have committed the same act as rape. Iranians accused of homosexual acts are the victim of a double-bind: on the one hand, President Ahmadinejad, who denied that the mere existence of gays in Iran in 2007; and on the other, clerics like the Ayatollah Abdollah Javadi-Amoi, who referred to homosexuals as “inferior to dogs and pigs” in a speech earlier this spring. In other words: homosexuality does not exist, and if it does, its acts are equated with rape. A 2005 case of adolescents executed for allegedly raping a 13 year-old boy likewise left doubts in observers’ minds that due process had been carried out. Video footage of the hanging made the case a lightening rod of criticism from LGBT organizations worldwide, including Human Rights Watch.
“LGBT Iranians are suffering at the hands of the Iranian government. The authorities repress and entrap them online, they are ostracized from society, and find little solace in the asylum-seeking process,” the UK’s Peter Tatchell Foundation said in a statement released last week. The foundation will release its report “LGBT Republic of Iran: An Online Reality?” on Wednesday at the London office of Amnesty International. The report contains testimonials from Iranian LGBT people who seek community online, only to encounter censorship and entrapment from state authorities.
“LGBT Iranians are routinely harassed both by society and by the state. Many have been physically tortured and punished and some have been sentenced to death solely because of their sexual orientation,” the Foundation said in its release.
It is not yet known when the four men will be executed, or what pressure the international community can exert, if any, to attempt to stay the executions. Photo: Now Public