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The difficulties of being gay in Iran | DW

LGBT flag in Tehran

Attitudes toward the LGBT community in the Islamic Republic could be described as extremely hostile

Police in Iran enter a young man’s apartment looking for signs of “misconduct.” They rummage through his laundry and check his computer. The young man, who goes by the name of Sahand, stands accused of violating the laws of the Islamic Republic — a relative reported him to police after finding him in bed with another man.

“It was terrible,” Sahand told DW. “Right after they found us my father was there screaming at me and telling me I ruined his life. He wanted nothing more to do with me and never wanted to see me again. The police came a while later. My mom then called my sister, who I had earlier confided in.”

Sahand later found out from his sister that it was a relative who had betrayed him. After his apartment and his life were turned upside down, it became perfectly clear to him that he had to flee Iran. While studying abroad, he had the opportunity to travel to Europe, where he applied for asylum. He has been living in Germany for a year now and hopes his asylum application will be approved.

UN report on persecution of sexual minorities

According to the latest report by Ahmed Shaheed, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, there is great reason for concern. Iran’s gay, lesbian, bi- and transgender communities face both widespread discrimination and ongoing human rights violations, the report said. “High-ranking officials” said Shaheed, “use hateful rhetoric when talking about gays, referring to them as sub-human or just plain sick.”

Under certain circumstances, those convicted of having gay sex can face the death penalty, while others caught kissing, holding hands, or just caressing, can receive public lashings. The UN official said that by criminalizing consensual sex, the authorities in the Islamic Republic have legitimized violence against gays by both public officials and private citizens. He said such violence includes “torture, blows to the body, and even rape carried out by law enforcement agencies and vigilante groups.”

Gays, lesbians, and bi-sexual Iranians are the victims of arbitrary justice in Iran and don’t expect fair trials for those accused of wrongdoing, says the UN official.

Watch video 05:54

Vera Jourova, EU commissioner for values and transparency, on LGBTQ rights

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