Iran Gay Executions & Oppression of Transgender People
IRAN: Gay Executions & Oppression of Transgender People
By Guest Blogger Talia Philips
Edited by Bryce B. Summers, Ph.D.
As much of the western world struggles to overcome centuries of culturally ingrained bigotry against the LGBT community, there are some nations who march in tune to hate laws that openly allow the execution of gay men and oppression against transgender individuals. One such nation is Iran, and their record on gay rights is utterly deplorable and demonstrably cruel and intolerant. From the general attitudes of much of their citizens to the laws passed down via Mullahs using the Quran to guide them, Iran is one of the most inhospitable environments for gays on the planet.
The Start of Iran’s Anti-Gay Stance
Believe it or not, Iran, modern-day Persia, was once a seemingly progressive place in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It is counter-intuitive now, considering what everyone knows about Iran, but the Iranian landscape was leaps and bounds more progressive than locations like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and India. It wasn’t until the 1930s that Iran went sideways on issues and decide to recommit themselves to the Quran and Sharia, subsequently writing it into their penal code that homosexuality was to be a crime punishable by imprisonment, corporal punishment (e.g. lashes) and even death. And while Iran insists that they do not actually execute people for homosexuality and sodomy alone, many independent reports have found that Iran skirts their own laws by accusing Gay men of drug trafficking or rape in order to expedite the execution process.
Iran’s Most Recent Crimes Against Humanity
Let’s be clear. To be unaccepting of people within the LGBT community is wrong and destructive to families and communities. To malign them and to whittle their rights away is to commit a crime against fellow human beings.
The way Iran treats people, however, particularly gay men, is something that goes beyond a mere crime; it is a stain on humanity that no amount of time, not even a millennia, will absolve. The nation’s most recent atrocities include the hanging of two gay men, presumably for consensual sex, which in Iran’s eyes is sodomy, full stop.
Abdullah Ghavami Chahanjiru and Salman Ghanbari Chahzanjiri, two consenting adults, were hanged in Iran last August 6, 2014. While these two men’s deaths made big headlines, the tragic fact of the matter, however, is that these two were just part of a seeming never-ending wave of executions carried out in Iran in 2014. More than 400 men were executed in Iran last year, many of whom were presumed to be gay men who were imprisoned and erroneously charged with additional crimes.
Iran referred to Chahanijru and Chahzanjiri as “immoral villains” and shows no remorse whatsoever for executing the two men.
The nation of Iran has had carte blanche to rein down on the world with its own brand of terror for decades now, unimpeded by the outside world. In fact, where one might think the United Nations (UN) would step up and help out with sanctions, since Iran oppresses women and literally murders gay men, the council for the UN instead appoints Iran to leadership positions on, of all places, the board of human rights. The double-dealing and cognitive dissonance displayed by those in a position to actually help people in Iran, including the United States government, is astounding. It makes one wonder if people’s lives actually ever did matter, or if they only matter when there’s some political battle to be won.
Thankfully, everyday citizens don’t need to live their lives like politicians. We don’t need to stay ahead in polls to secure our livelihoods; we can act based on true injustice and not have to worry about how it looks to other people. In short, we can do the right thing because it’s the right thing. And for millions of people in Iran, from women to anyone under the LGBT banner, the right thing to do is to help them in any way humanly possible.
Iran’s Catch-22 For Transgender Individuals
For those who insist the United States and other modern western nations are a patriarchy, they may be doing little more than emboldening nations like Iran to act even more boldly as true patriarchies. In fact, no one in Iran is treated as an equal citizen unless that person is a straight male. Women are perennially oppressed by the entire culture. Gay men are risking their lives on a daily basis just by existing as gay. And if an individual in Iran happens to be transgender, then they are opening up another can of worms entirely.
Iran is exceedingly dubious in this area. For instance, it is illegal in Iran to be a transgender person, but only if you end up living as another sex. For example, if you were born a “male” but are now living as a female, Iran considers it illegal. The dubiousness comes in by way of Iran’s catch-22 system.
Since the mid 1980s, the Iranian government actually helped to subsidize sex reassignment surgeries for trans individuals looking to fix their lives. Which seemed like a great thing, right? How progressive of Iran to actually do something good for its citizens for a change! But that’s not the case. Unfortunately, Iran had reportedly used this as a loophole to punish transgender individuals. Since it wasn’t a crime until a person was fully recognized as transsexual, as in living as another gender, Iran had baited many people into undergoing reassignment surgery, only to lock them up after recovering.
It was a dirty trick employed by a very dirty government in a nation.
Luckily, however, those cases are rare in modern times as sexual reassignment for transgender people has become more commonplace. Iran has rumored to have the highest sexual assignment cases in the world, although this has nt been verified. Sexual reassignment, however, have taken a different spin. Iranian Doctors have recently leaked to Western press that gay men and women are being forced to have sex reassignments. The government has rounded up gay men and women and told them they must have their gender changed because they are sick.
Few things in life are able to stand as objective fact when speaking about people’s lives and the policies of nations. But if ever there were an objective truth, it is that Iran treats people horribly and that the LGBT community inside of that nation needs help. The Obama administration are barely able to get a nuclear arms deal negotiated that won’t be able undone by his opponents let alone advocate for this oppressed group. The UN has only so much power. Iran government certainly won’t change on its own.
It falls on someone to help; it falls on us. It falls on us learning how culture shapes our feelings towards LGBT people.
Queer Sense theory offers a framework whereby people can learn awareness and someday, build a bridge to a acceptance.
QUEER SENSE is authored by Bryce B. Summers, Ph.D. who is a psychologist and author. Please help change attitudes to acceptance whether it is domestic, or abroad, by contributing to a crowd funding campaign. Help make this book happen!
Queer Sense is a theory that fosters awareness on how culture shapes attitude development through social models, emotional connections to social models, aka attachment, and use of language with one’s models.