Iranians participate in the first Gay Pride parade organised in Ankara, Turkey, on May 22. Photo posted on Irqr.
"We are everywhere" proclaimed Iranian homosexuals around the world in a collective online 'coming out' over the past few weeks. They are sending out a message of solidarity, particularly to the homosexuals living in Iran whose sexual preference could cost them their lives.
To mark the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17, Arsham Parsi, the founder of the Toronto based ‘Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees’, encouraged members of the gay Iranian community to share their experiences and post videos on Facebook. In response, dozens of Iranians decided to step out of the closet.
For now, the rights of homosexual, bisexual and transsexual people in Iran are non-existent. All sexual relations outside of traditional marriage are illegal and considered to be a violation of divine will.
According to the Iranian interpretation of Sharia law, sodomy is a crime in which both partners can be punished by death. In theory, the death penalty applies only to adult and consensual homosexual partners. Nevertheless, in 2005 two teenage boys, one of whom was a minor, were hanged in the northern city of Mashad for having sexual relations together.
In 2007, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaimed at Columbia University in New York that there were ‘no homosexuals in Iran.'
On this video, an Iranian woman holds a sign that reads: "I am a homosexual but... a Human Being". Video posted on YouTube by Weareeverywhere.
"Every minute of every day we fear being discovered"
Ama (pseudonym) lives in Iran.
Being a homosexual in Iran is difficult and involves all sorts of risks. Rejection starts within the family whose members tend not to acknowledge our different preference. I happen to be lucky because my sister does not mind my sexuality and gets on well with my girlfriends. The rest of my family probably suspects something, but prefers to turn a blind eye.
There is a real danger for us. Every minute of every day we fear being discovered because at any moment the police or an ordinary person could figure out what is going on. According the law, a lesbian receives 100 lashes the first three times she is arrested. She is executed the fourth time. For gay men it is different; they are executed right away.
You might think that things have gotten especially bad for homosexuals since Ahmadinejad came to power, but that is not true. The law has always been the same. Today, all of the solidarity networks are abroad. In Iran no-one dares to support the homosexual community openly "
"I would like us to be able to speak out without fear"
In this video, a young Iranian woman called Shokoofeh says that she suffered from not being able to tell her family and friends when she fell in love with a girl for the first time. "I dream of a sunny future where we would be able to speak out on our love without fear", she concludes. Video posted on YouTube by Weareeverywhere.
"Iran has failed me"
I am Iranian and gay. I'm afraid of showing my face. I fled Iran, and my family. My country has failed me. Now I am a refugee in Turkey and I'm counting the days trying to find a way out. But the future is ours. We are everywhere." Video posted on YouTube.
Gay Iranain refugees in Turkey participate in their first Gay Pride
Ankara gay pride on May 22. Video posted on Irqr.
Post written with FRANCE 24 journalist Lorena Galliot.