Thursday, 16 December 2010

Iran: Human Rights Watch Report

We Are a Buried Generation Discrimination and Violence against Sexual Minorities in Iran
Based on testimony from more than 100 Iranians, this report documents discrimination and violence against LGBT people and others whose sexual practices and gender expression do not conform to government-endorsed socio-religious norms. Human Rights Watch analyzed these abuses within the context of the government's violations against its general population, including arbitrary arrests and detentions, invasions of privacy, mistreatment and torture of detainees, and the lack of due-process protections and fair-trial guarantees.

Read the Press Release - Read the Report

To paraphrase the late, great Palestinian scholar and activist Edward W Said, what people in the West know about homosexuality in Iran is a stupid cliche.
Human Rights Watch have bothered to try to find out what life is really like there.
Brian Whitaker, an editor at The Guardian's Comment Is Free and author of Unspeakable Love: Gay & Lesbian Life in the Middle East, has written a fairly neutral piece on the publication of this report.
Whitaker notes correctly;
"Unfortunately, the LGBT issue – epitomised by the notorious photograph of two male teenagers being hanged – has also been embraced unscrupulously by some, in the hope of bolstering support for a military attack which has entirely different goals and motives. This, in turn, leads to accusations from the other side that anyone who complains about the treatment of LGBT people is simply picking on Iran and trying to start a war.
"Regardless of motives, though, it's a fact that Iran's treatment of sexual minorities is bad and, by international standards, somewhere near the bottom of the league. It is one of only seven countries worldwide that retains the death penalty for consensual same-sex acts (the others are Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan and some parts of Somalia and Nigeria).
"But disappointingly for those who like to keep things ultra-simple, the picture is not uniformly black. Small numbers of Iranians (mainly in the middle and upper classes) identify themselves as gay or lesbian, and some are surprisingly open about it. There are also embryonic LGBT communities in major cities, such as Tehran, Esfahan, and Shiraz, with well-known cafes, restaurants and parks that serve as meeting places..."
Of course for many - even enlightened Guardian readers - this is all unsayable, unthinkable.
Just read the hysterical comments beneath it.
George Orwell must be spinning in his urn.
For them, Iran is our enemy and so of course they kill gay men.
But there simply is no evidence Iran executes gay men "simply for being gay".
True, we can't be prove that they don't, in secret, just as Bertrand Russell would argue that you can't ultimately prove that there is no God, or that there isn't a tiny teapot, invisible to the human eye, endlessly circling around the Sun.

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