An appeal has been jointly issued by the militant British gay rights group OutRage and the Paris-based International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) for world-wide demonstrations on July 19, the first anniversary of the public hanging in Iran of two gay teens, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni. Photos of the execution of the two boys, who were hanged in the public square of the city of Mashad last year, created international outrage when they were widely circulated on the Internet, and focused the world’s attention on Iran’s ongoing, lethal reign of terror targeting Iranian gays.
Protests have already been scheduled for the anniversary of the teens’ execution in a number of large European cities, including London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Brussels; and the New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission has both endorsed the world-wide demonstrations and is itself organizing one in front of the Iranian Mission to the United Nations (622 Third Avenue, at 40th St., New York City, at 5:00 P.M. on Wednesday, July 19). Local gay groups and ad hoc committees have already scheduled U.S. events in San Francisco, San Diego, Washington, D.C., and Provincetown for July 19. (A list of those demonstrations, with contacts, is at the end of this post).
The call for global demonstrations has also been endorsed by the Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization (PGLO), the largest Iranian gay group, which has secretariats in several European countries and Canada. “We enthusiastically support the call for demonstrations on July 19, and we are very grateful to our brothers and sisters for organizing these demonstrations for our beleaguered Iranian gay people,” Arsham Parsi, human rights secretary of the PGLO, told Gay City News from his base in Toronto.
At the same time, a new report on the hangings of the two Iranian gay teens, based on sources inside Iran, prepared by Simon Forbes, and issued by OutRage, further refutes the claims by the Islamic Republic of Iran that the boys were guilty of rape, and instead demonstrates that they were victims of a legal “honor killing” initiated by a family member of one of the boys who disapproved of their homosexuality. Gay City News also had refuted the Tehran regime’s claims about the rape allegations against the two lads in its reporting on the hangings last year ( to read one of those reports, click here.
“Local sources in Mashad state that Mahmoud and Ayaz were lovers, not rapists or child abusers — contrary to the homophobic propaganda of the Iranian regime,” says the OutRage report. “Witnesses report seeing them together and obviously in love at a private party in 2003,” the year before their arrest. “Mahmoud and Ayaz were charged with the capital crime of homosexuality after a disapproving family member reported their relationship to the police,” the report adds.
Commented OutRage founder and coordinator Peter Tatchell, “In publicised executions of gay couples, the men are often accused of the kidnap and rape of a younger male. All such allegations need to be treated with extreme skepticism, as they tend to follow a suspiciously stereotypical formula.” Tatchell added, “By instituting charges of kidnap and rape, the Iranian authorities apparently hope to discredit the victims, discourage public protests and deflect international condemnation. They calculate that there will be little Iranian or international sympathy for people hanged for crimes like abduction and sexual assault.” Similar warnings from gay Iranians inside Iran have been documented by this reporter (for example, read this report from Gay City News last year.)
As to the age of the two gay victims, “At first it was claimed by Iranian officials that they were aged 18 and 19, then that they were 19 and 21, then aged 18 and 20, and finally they made the claim that they were both above 18 at the time of their alleged crimes. However,” the OutRage report says, ” the best evidence is that both youths were aged 17 when they were executed and therefore minors, aged 15 or 16, at the time of their alleged crimes. This execution of minors is in flagrant breach of international agreements the Tehran regime has signed.”
In calling for global demonstrations, the coordinator and founder of IDAHO, Louis-George Tin, a black French university professor, said, “Something special has happened since 19 July 2005: an international movement is emerging in solidarity with the two boys and all the victims of Iran’s homophobic regime. The political and religious authorities in Iran should understand that their homophobia is now regarded as an international scandal.”
Tin added, “On 19 July, we are standing for life, for liberty, and for love. We are standing in commemoration of Mahmoud and Ayaz and all the victims of Tehran’s homophobic tyranny. We also stand in hope, looking forward to a better future for the gays and lesbians of Iran.” (For a profile of Louis-GeorgeTin, “Going Global on Gay Rights,” click here.)
The joint IDAHO-OutRage appeal for international demonstrations, entitled “An International Day of Action Against Homophobic Persecution in Iran” — whose slogan is “Stop Killing Gays! Stop Killing Kids!” – includes a five-point list of its goals:
“1. End all executions in Iran, especially the execution of minors.
“2. Stop the arrest, torture and imprisonment of Iranian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and repeal the Iranian penal code’s criminalization of same-sex relationships.
“3. Halt the deportation to Iran of LGBT asylum seekers and other victims of Tehran’s persecution.
“4. Support Iranians struggling for democracy, social justice and human rights.
“5. Oppose foreign military intervention in Iran; regime change must come from within — by and for the Iranian people themselves.”
Although IGLHRC has stepped forward to organize a demonstration in New York City, some U.S. gay activists are critical of the absence of the other national U.S. gay organizations from the July 19 protests. “American gay rights organizations should devote more energy to tackling homophobic persecution beyond our borders,” said San Francisco’s Michael Petrelis, organizer of a demonstration scheduled there for 5:00 P.M. at Harvey Milk Plaza. The protests on July 19 are a step towards greater US support for the global struggle for queer freedom,” Petrelis said, adding, “Last year, only one American city joined last year’s the international protests against Iran’s hanging of the two gay teenagers. We hope more cities will join us and organize vigils for gay and lesbian Iranians.”
Below is a list (as of now) of cities and contacts where we have details on July 19 demonstrations which have been organized:
New York – Location: Iranian Mission to the U.N., 622 Third Avenue (at 40th St.) Time: 5:00 P.M. Contact: IGLHRC, 212-268-8040
Washington, D.C. — Location: DuPont Circle Time: 5:00 P.M. Contact: Rob Anderson [email protected], Tel. work (202) 508-4446 home (202) 550-8812
Provincetown — Location: Town Hall Square Time: To be announced Contact: Andrew Sullivan, [email protected]
San Diego — Location: U.S. Federal Building Time: 4:00 pm Contact: Michael Mussman, [email protected]
San Francisco — Location: Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro and Market Streets Time: 5:00 pm Contact: Michael Petrelis, [email protected]
Amsterdam — Location: Homomonument Time: To be announced Contact: Mike Tidmus, [email protected]
London: — Location: House of Commons, Committee Room 12 Guest Speakers: Chris Bryant MP, Jean Lambert MEP, Iranian gay activist, Simon Forbes and Peter Tatchell Time: 6:30 pm Contacts: Peter Tatchell, [email protected] & Brett Lock, [email protected]
For background on the new wave of anti-gay repression in Iran, see my previous articles: July 21, 2005 — Iran Executes Two Gay Teenagers (Updated); August 11 — Iran Sources Question Rape Charges in Teen Executions; August 12 – Two New Gay Executions Scheduled in Iran, Says Iranian Exile Group; August 17 — Iran’s Deadly Anti-Gay Crackdown: With Two More Executions Scheduled, the Pace of Repression Steps Up; August 25 – Iran’s Anti-Gay Purge Grows: Reports of New Executions; September 8 — Iran and the Death of Gay Activism; September 20 — They’ll Kill Me — A Gay Iranian Torture Victim Speaks of His Ordeal; September 29 — Iranian Gays Urgently Appeal for Help; October 5 — Shocking New Photo of Hanging of Gay Iranian Teens; October 6 — Canada Introduces UN Resolution Condemning Iran’s Human Rights Record; November 24 — Save Us — A Gay Iranian Who Married His Partner Begs for Help from the West; January 12, 2006 – Kidnapped: Another Gay Iranian Torture Victim Speaks; January 4, 2006 — Iran’s Anti-Gay Pogrom; January 27, 2006 — A Call to Solidarity: U.S. Gay Groups Must End Their Isolationism; February 8, 2006 — An Iranian Trans Torture Victim Speaks from Inside Iran; February 9, 2006 – Stop the Deportation of Saba Rawi; March 3, 2006 – Dutch to End Freeze on Deportation of Gay Iranians; March 4, 2006 – Commotion in Dutch Parliament Over Deportation of Gay Iranians; March 16, 2006 — England: Another Gay Iranian Faces Deportation; April 20, 2006 — Dutch Deportations of Gay Iranians on Hold; April 26, 2006 — Iran Hacks Websites to Bury Anti-Gay Pogrom; May 31, 2006 – Iran Exports Anti-Gay Pogrom to Iraq; June 14, 2006 – An Iranian Gay Activist’s Moving Plea; June 25, 2006 — Iran‘s Gay Refugees Find a Safe Haven in Canada.
Also, don’t miss Rob Anderson’s excellent article in the New Republic, How America’s Gay Rights Establishment is Failing Gay Iranians.
Originally written for Gay City News — New York’s largest gay weekly — this article was posted online on June 28, 2006, on DIRELAND a blog written by Doug Ireland, a longtime radical journalist and media critic.