GRSJ224/LGBT In Iran

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The LGBT community in Iran are discriminated against for their sexual preferences and gender identity. Iran has been governed primarily under Islamic Law since the 1979 revolution, which states that engagement of sexual activity between same-sex individuals is a crime.[1] Under the same law, transgender identity is recognized and legal change of gender is awarded upon gender confirming surgery, however the surgery is required.

Traditional families are discriminating against their own children if they come out to them.

Homosexuality's Legality

Laws and Prosecution

Any sexual activity that is not part of a heterosexual marriage which includes sex with the same-sex is deemed illegal and anyone in contempt of the law can be punished via fines, imprisonment, slashing and even capital punishment. By the same law, gay marriage is not recognized and homosexuals in Iran have no way join in civil union. Sodomy is proven through confession of the participants, however it is often coerced through beatings and torture.

Protests at Oslo Pride 2015 against execution in Iran for homosexuality

An infamous case of prosecution that brought word-wide protests is that of Hamzeh Chavi and Loghman Hamzehpour, a homosexual couple aged 18 and 19 respectively. After their confession of being in a homosexual relationship, they were charged with Mohareb (being enemies of Allah) and Lavat (sodomy) which both carry the punishment of public hanging.[2] Despite the efforts of the people around the world and an international petition, they were publicly executed. According to a leaked document by Wikileaks, there have been between 4,000 to 6,000 executions of gay and lesbian Iranians since the instalment of Islamic Law.[3]


Typically, cases where both adults are consenting and of sound mind are not punished by capital punishment however the decision to execute can still be made by the trailing judge. In the case that either party was non-consenting (rape), the guilty party is publicly executed. The most common punishment for couples that convicted of homosexuality is a large number of slashing and required therapy, yet often they are forced to undergo unwanted gender confirming surgeries.

Gender Identity

Iran is the world's second leader in number of gender confirming surgeries performed.[4] This is partly due to the fact that to legally changed your status, you must first undergo sex reassignment surgery and have documentation from a doctor affirming your identity. Furthermore, given the illegality of homosexuality, many gay members of the community who get into trouble with the law are forced and/or persuaded to have surgery in order to avoid punishment.


Apart from the legal challenges, the LGBT members and couples in Iran are afraid of being seen in public as there exists much incorrectly placed stigma. The traditional community believe gay people are abnormal and often creating problems for them which they wouldn't even be able to get help from the police.[5] Traditional families often shame their children if they come out as homosexual and sometimes they may even expel them from their homes.[5] Classic views dictate homosexuality as a disgusting act which is shameful and degrading to the family's reputation.

Rights Movement

The largest organization fighting for LGBT rights in Iran is known as the "Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees" (IRQR). Headed in Toronto, Canada by it's leader, Arsham Parsi, who was forced to flee in exile due to his activities, they aim to advocate basic human rights for LGBT members of Iran. [6]

  1. Parsi, Arsham (2015). Exiled for Love: The Journey of an Iranian Queer Activist. Roseway Publishing. ISBN 1552667014.
  4. "Iran's gay plan". CBC. Archived from the original on |archive-url= requires |archive-date= (help).
  5. 5.0 5.1 Parsi, Arsham. "Interview with Iranian Gay Couple". Gay Republic Daily.
  6. "Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees".