MARVDASHT, Iran — A young man described as a “gangster,” who is known only by the initials CHM, was hanged publicly in Marvdasht, Fars Province, Iran, for allegedly engaging in “sodomy” with another man.
Speaking with the Iranian Fars News Agency, Gholamhossein Chamansara, the Attorney General of Marvdasht, reported that the death penalty was given to the man – whose exact age is not known – due to his “despicable heinous act” that contradicted Sharia Muslim laws.
He was executed on April 19.
The Iranian Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRAN) stated that the reference to “despicable heinous act” indicates that the death penalty was carried due to same-sex acts. However the judiciary regulatory office in Fars Province was unwilling to give more precise information about the case and the type of sexual activities of the executed man.
Commenting on the case, Hossein Alizadeh, of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) said, “None of the media sources that we have seen indicates that the person executed was gay.”
“The state media have conflicting reports, noting that the person was involved in rape, sodomy and 10 other counts of criminal activities, including kidnapping and blackmailing.
“Even the initials of the person’s name is reported differently in different sources. All sources so far have mentioned the person had a history of criminal activity and have described him as a gangster.
“At this point, all we have are three media reports by three state-run sources. Given the lack of transparency in the Iranian legal system, it is not possible for us to verify any of the information.”
Gorji Marzban chairperson of the Austrian-based Oriental Queer Organization (ORQOA) commented that, “In Iran any kind of sexual activities beyond the category of marriage can be punished by death.”
“Gay sex, adultery and in some cases rape are offenses potentially punishable by the death penalty. In this case I did not see any statements given by judiciary bodies about adultery or rape, so to me it is seems very likely that “CH M” was hanged for gay sex,” said Marzban.
“At the same time the government claims that there are no homosexuals in Iran and homosexuality, and if existing at all, is a curable ‘condition,'” he said.
Saghi Gaharahman, chairperson of the Toronto based Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO) stated that she condemns the huge rate of executions in Iran.
Stressing that: ‘It is hard to state he was gay. It’s true that a gay-sex allegation was used to confirm the sentence, but that doesn’t give reason to call it a gay execution. It can only be protested as an executions without adequate hearing and the services of a lawyer.’
She added: ‘I am afraid at this point, the regime is threat to everyone not only the LGBT community.’
Human Rights Watch (HRW) in its 2011 – We are a Buried Generation: discrimination and Violence Against Sexual Minorities in Iran – stated that because trials on moral charges in Iran are usually held in closed sessions, it is difficult to determine what proportion of those charged and executed for same-sex conduct are gay and in what proportion the alleged offense was consensual.
Because of the lack of transparency, Human Rights Watch said: ‘It cannot be ruled out that Iran is sentencing sexual minorities who engage in consensual same-sex relations to death under the guise that they have committed forcible sodomy or rape.’
The issue of the death penalty for same-sex acts is further compounded by the fact that the Iranian legal code does not differentiate between rape and homosexual acts.
Furthermore, in many cases, it is often unclear whether the accused has actually committed a sexual act or it is a mere accusation based on some dispute. Even in the cases where the same-sex act has happened, often it is not clear whether the individuals involved are actually gay or it is an occasional act of sexual gratification.
Iranian Human Rights activists constantly note the fact that the two genders are strictly segregated increases the tendency for same-sex acts among the youth, in a phenomena that is also similarly known in single gender prisons. Indeed this phenomenon happens throughout highly segregated societies in the Middle East and North Africa.