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London protest against homosexual executions in Iran

Sent by E.K.
August 12, 2005

One hundred people protested outside the Iranian Embassy in London Thursday, 11 August 2005 -- coinciding with simultaneous US and European protests against Iran's "tyrannical, homophobic, misogynistic and fundamentalist regime." >>>Photos

We condemn the execution of two teenage boys in Iran on charges involving homosexual acts. One of them was a minor at the time of his execution; both were minors when they committed their offences. OutRage! urges an end to the death penalty. We express our solidarity with Iranians campaigning for democracy and human rights," said protester Aaron Saeed, Muslim affairs spokesperson of the LGBT human rights group OutRage!, which coordinated today's demo.

"The London protest was one of five simultaneous international demonstrations. The others were in Dublin, San Francisco, Paris and Montpelier. These protests were against Iran's use of the death penalty and its persecution of lesbian, gay and bisexual people."

Among the London protesters were members of LGBT, socialist and human rights groups, and Iranian left-wingers, exiles and asylum seekers; including an Iranian woman whose 16 year old brother was executed and his body dragged through the streets," said Mr Saeed.

Photos of the protest (free use, no charge): Mahmoud Asgari (16) and Ayaz Marhoni (18) were hanged in Edalat (Justice) Square in the city of Mashhad, in north east Iran, on 19 July 2005. Reports say the youths were hanged for gay sex. The Iranian government claims they were hanged for the rape of a 13 year old boy," reports Ramzi Isalam of OutRage!

Fact: Iran executes lesbians and gays. The Iranian government has executed 4,000 homosexuals since 1979, according to estimates in the mid-1990s by the exiled Iranian gay rights group, Homan. Fact: The Iranian government often pins false charges on the victims of its murderous policies in order to discredit them and discourage public protests."

We are not prepared to give the violently homophobic Iranian government the benefit of the doubt. It has previously lied to justify public executions. In any case, the death penalty is a disproportionate punishment. It is barbaric and should be abolished," added Mr Isalam.

OutRage!'s sources for this story include clandestine gay and lesbian activists inside Iran, members of the democratic and left Iranian opposition, and the websites of government-sanctioned news agencies in Iran, added Aaron Saeed of OutRage!

The Islamic fundamentalist regime in Iran enforces Sharia law, which dictates the death penalty for gay sex: variously including hanging, stoning, beheading or dropping from a high place like a tall building or cliff-top. The teenagers admitted to having gay sex, probably under torture, but claimed in their defence that their crime was common and they were not aware it was punishable by death.

Prior to their execution, the teenagers were held in prison for 14 months and severely beaten with 228 lashes. Their length of detention suggests that they committed the so-called offences more than a year earlier, when Mahmoud was 15 and Ayaz was 17. In other words, both youths were minors at the time of the offence.

Ruhollah Rezazadeh, the lawyer of the youngest boy (16), had appealed that he was too young to be executed and that the court should take into account his tender age. He was quoted by the IRNA news agency as saying that "the judiciary had trampled on its own laws", explaining that the Iranian courts usually commute death sentences on children to five year jail.

Despite his pleas, the Supreme Court in Tehran ordered Mahmoud to be hanged. Under the Iranian penal code, girls as young as nine and boys as young as 15 can be hanged.

Three other young gay Iranians are being hunted by the police in connection with the same so-called crime. They have gone into hiding and cannot be found. If caught, they will probably also face execution, said Saeed.

"The allegation of rape may be a trumped up charge to undermine public sympathy for the youths. The Iranian regime often resorts to smears and false allegations to discredit people it has executed and to undermine human rights campaigns," continued OutRage! campaign coordinator, Brett Lock.

"It could be that the 13 year old was a willing participant but that Iranian law (like the laws of many western nations) deems that no person aged 13 is capable of sexual consent and that therefore even consensual sexual contact is automatically deemed in law to be statutory rape."

The use of torture is routine in Iran. These two boys were violently abused in prison, receiving more than 200 lashes. "Iran is a fascist-style tyranny based on a fundamentalist version of Islam. We join with progressive Muslims to denounce the fundamentalists and to support democratic and left Iranians striving to topple the Ayatollahs."

OutRage! wholeheartedly supports the struggle of the Iranian people to overthrow clerical tyranny and to secure democracy and human rights. "Without an end to the fundamentalist regime, there can never be justice for LGBT people, women, trade unionists and minority religions and nationalities in Iran."

The lack of liberal and left support for the victims of the Iranian tyranny is truly shocking. We deplore the absence of international solidarity with Iranians fighting for freedom," concluded Mr Lock. Photos of the protest (free use, no charge):

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