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Volume 33
Issue 40

 
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Celebrities join London protest against Iran executions and torture
Celebrities join London protest against Iran executions and torture
"I unreservedly condemn this savage and barbaric treatment of homosexual men in Iran. It is inconceivable that we should have diplomatic relations with a country which betrays its citizens in this way," said 'Four Weddings and A Funeral' star Simon Callow.

TV soap and film actor Jeremy Sheffield, Gay rap star Q Boy, comedian Scott Cappurro, Big Brother contestant Josh Rafter, out Gay Labour MP Chris Bryant and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell today joined a 50-strong protest outside the Iranian Embassy in London.

The protest was also backed by Little Britain TV star Matt Lucas, Hollywood actor Simon Callow and pop singer and DJ Boy George.

The protest was part of an on-going series of global demonstrations against the Iranian governments arrest, imprisonment, whipping and execution of Gay men.

It was organized by the Gay magazine Axm, and by the queer rights group OutRage!.

OutRage! expresses its appreciation to Axm for its splendid work in making this protest possible.

We are here to condemn Iran's execution and torture of Gay men, and to demand international action against the tyrannical Iranian regime said protest co-organizer Peter Tatchell of the LGBT human rights group OutRage!.

The international community should issue an ultimatum to Iran: either respect human rights, or face economic sanctions. There can be no normal relations with an abnormal regime that executes Gay people, unchaste women, Muslims who renounce their faith, and political, religious and ethnic minorities.

Two teenagers were hanged in the Iranian city of Mashhad on 19 July, on charges involving homosexual acts. A 22 year old Gay man, Amir, recently fled Iraq after being given 100 lashes. He was lashed for merely being Gay, not for having Gay sex. The lashes left his back covered in open bloody wounds. The police warned him that if they caught him again he would be executed like the teenagers in Mashhad.

Iranian agents, posing as Gay men, have been arranging dates in Gay chat rooms, luring respondents to rendezvous, and then arresting, beating and torturing them. This is part of a sustained witch-hunt of Gay people by the Islamic fundamentalist regime in Iran.

We express our solidarity with Lesbian and Gay Iranians, and with all the people of Iran who are struggling for democracy and human rights.

The Ayatollahs clerical fascist regime is the problem. There can be no freedom for any Iranian Gay or straight while the Islamists remain in power and enforce the barbarism of Sharia law. OutRage! supports the efforts of Iranian democrats, socialists, communists, trade unionists, students, feminists and Gays to overthrow the Iranian theocracy, said Peter Tatchell.

As well as the celebrity speakers, the protest was addressed by Iranian exiles, representing pro-Gay opposition groups that are battling against the butchers in Tehran.

These speakers included Maryam Kousha of the Iran Civil Rights Committee, Maziar Razi of the Iranian Workers Solidarity Network, and Bahram Soroush of the Workers Communist Party of Iran. These groups have backed the LGBT freedom struggle in Iran, assisting OutRage! in the translation of messages and smuggling out of Iran information about the persecution of LGBT people.

Thousands of Axm readers have signed the Axm 'Homophobia Kills'

petition, condemning the Iranian executions.

The Iranian Embassy refused to accept the petition.

Instead, the petition will be delivered by openly Gay Labour MP Chris Bryant to the UK Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw MP, with a request that he calls on the Iranian government to halt its persecution of the LGBT community in Iran.

We thank everyone who signed the petition.

Endorsing the protest, the star of the Little Britain TV comedy, Matt Lucas said:

Recently in Iran two teenagers were executed for being Gay. This is just one example of the constant persecution of Gay and Lesbian people by the Iranian government. I support efforts to put pressure on the Iranian government to stop this persecution. While Gay visibility has grown in Britain in recent years we cannot forget the plight of those in more hostile parts of the world who live with the daily risk of jail, torture and execution for no other reason than their sexuality.'

Hollywood actor Simon Callow (Four Weddings and A Funeral) said:

"I'm sorry, I can't make it to the Embassy on the 4th. I'm filming all day. But I unreservedly condemn this savage and barbaric treatment of homosexual men in Iran. It is inconceivable that we should have diplomatic relations with a country which betrays its citizens in this way."

Two Gay teenagers were publicly executed in Iran on 19 July 2005. The youths were hanged in Edalat (Justice) Square in the city of Mashhad, in North East Iran.

They were sentenced to death by Court No. 19. Iran enforces Islamic Sharia law, which dictates the death penalty for Gay sex. One youth was aged 18 and the other was a minor under the age of 18.

They admitted to having Gay sex (probably under torture) but claimed in their defence that they were not aware that homosexuality was punishable by death.

Prior to their execution, the teenagers were held in prison for 14 months and severely beaten with 228 lashes.

Their length of detention suggests that they committed the so-called offences more than a year earlier, when they were possibly around the age of 16 or 17.

Although the Iranian government claims the youths were executed for the rape of a 13 year old boy, underground Gay groups inside Iran tell us that the two teenagers were lovers, said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!

They say the Iranian government routinely makes up false allegations - such as rape, drug-taking and spying - to discredit the people it executes and to discourage public protests, Mr Tatchell said.

According to Axm magazine editor, Matthew Miles:

"The shocking images of the executed Iranian teenagers have galvanized our print and online readers, with thousands of people signing our petition in a ten day period. As LGBT people in the West finally gain most of the rights we deserve, it seems we are proving that there is such a thing as a global Gay community by focusing on the struggle for equality in more hostile parts of the world. Protest is only a step but, as organizations such as Amnesty International and OutRage! have proved, it can and does bring change. That is why, along with OutRage!, Axm magazine organized today's protest against the Iranian Government."

Sign the petition against Iranian homophobia online: www.axm-mag.com.



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