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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 14, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 02
Iran sentences Gay men to death by stoning
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Iran sentences Gay men to death by stoning

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Two young Iranian men have been sentenced to death by stoning for having sex with each other.

According to the International Committee Against Stoning (ICAS), the two men - identified only as Ayub, 20 years old, and Mosleh, 21 - are currently being held in prison in the Iranian city of Orumieh.

They are scheduled to be stoned to death on January 21 in their hometown of Piranshahr.

The report originated in a Kurdish newspaper. Orumieh and Piranshahr are in Iranian Kurdistan.

Gay blogger Paul Canning, writing for the British website Pink News, says that the report 'has since been confirmed by other sources.'

The IGLHRC says that it cannot confirm the details, however, and they have cautioned journalists to be cautious in reporting the details.

Gay blogs Towleroad and Joe My God took down their posts on the case after being contacted by the IGLHRC.

The original newspaper report claimed that the boys raped an unnamed third boy. The Iranian government does not acknowledge having LGBT citizens, and often charges Gay people with rape, even when the sexual contact was consensual.

According to ICAS, Ayub and Mosleh filmed themselves having sex and then uploaded the video to their cell phones.

'Pictures of President Ahmadinejad were incorporated into the film and loaded onto their mobile telephones,' ICAS added. 'In addition, headshots of [Ayatollah] Khamenei pasted over a donkey were also found on the mobiles.'

The videos were reportedly found on the men's phones by government agents, who then arrested them.

The addition of images of Ahmedinejad and Khamenei to a sex tape suggests that the two were political opponents of the Iranian regime and may have attracted the attention of police agents for that reason.

In a statement issued on January 16, ICAS called for demonstrations against the execution in Iran, and asked foreign supporters to generate international pressure on the Iranian government.

'We urge the young people of Piranshahr to hasten to the aid of Ayub and Mosleh and declare that they will not permit this tragedy to occur in Piranshar,' ICAS said in its statement.

'We must gather and collectively declare that we will not permit the Islamic Regime to murder and stone the youth of Iran in fear-mongering acts.

'We call on people everywhere to spread the news of the inhuman and medieval act against Ayub and Mosleh and do whatever they can to save them.'

ICAS previously organized the international campaign to prevent the stoning of Sakineh Ashtiani for adultery. She was sentenced to be executed in September 2010, but Iranian officials say her sentence has been suspended pending further investigation.

Stoning is an especially gruesome form of execution. In Iran, men who are to be stoned to death are buried in the ground up to their waists, and then struck with stones large enough to cause physical injury, but not so large that they would cause immediate death.

Soheila Vahdati, a human rights activist who has worked with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Iranian Queer Organisation, said, 'They don't differentiate between rape and homosexual acts. As well, there is a culture of shame. The families won't defend their loved ones from this brutal punishment.'

'We are very concerned even though we haven't got all the details,' she added. 'We'll try to save their lives but unfortunately Iran has quickly executed people in the past.'

Iranian judges may order execution by stoning under a 1983 law prohibiting acts considered to be offensive to God.

Some senior Shia clerics have spoken out against stoning on the grounds that it is not mentioned as a punishment in the Quran. According to Pink News, the Association of British Muslims has condemned the sentence and says it does not see anything in the Quran to justify such punishment.

Last month Human Rights Watch issued a comprehensive report on the repression of LGBT Iranians. It said that those charged with same-sex offences stand little chance of receiving a fair trial.

The IGLHRC, while noting they could not confirm key facts of the case, called on Iran to halt all executions.

'IGLHRC condemns the use of capital punishment in all instances, including this one, regardless of the alleged acts with which the individuals have been accused or convicted,' the group said in a statement issued on January 19.

'Likewise, IGLHRC condemns all forms of sexual violence and rape. We call on the government of Iran to immediately annul any execution order related to this case, to end the practice of death by stoning, and to repeal the criminalization of same-sex activity.'

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