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Iran reportedly executes two teens for having gay sex

"It served them right" says member of Iran's Parliament

ISLAMIC SHARIAH LAW. Two male teenagers were hanged in Mashhad, Iran, Jul 19 for having sex with each other. Credit: (Iranian Students News Agency)

Two male teenagers were hanged in Mashhad, Iran, Jul 19 for having sex with each other, the Iranian Students News Agency reported.

The report was translated from Farsi by the British gay-rights group OutRage.

The teens, one age 18 and one under age 18, reportedly were convicted by Court #19 under Islamic Shariah law, which punishes homosexual acts with death. They were identified only as “M.A.” and “A.M.”

The reports said the couple acknowledged having sex but said they didn’t realize it was a capital offense. They also testified that most Iranian boys have sex with each other.

Another report, by Iran Focus (a non-profit news service provider that covers events in Iran, Iraq and the Middle East) – reportedly based on the original ISNA story – claimed the two were hanged not for engaging in gay sex but for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old boy. Neither the ISNA report nor a report from the National Council of Resistance of Iran reported this information, OutRage said.

“The allegation of sexual assault may either be a trumped-up charge to undermine public sympathy for the youths – a frequent tactic by the Islamist regime in Iran – or it may be that the 13-year-old was a willing participant but that Iranian law deems that no person of that age is capable of sexual consent and that therefore any sexual contact is automatically deemed in law to be a sex assault,” said OutRage’s Peter Tatchell, who broke the story in the English-language media. “This is just the latest barbarity by the Islamo-fascists in Iran,” Tatchell said. “The entire country is a gigantic prison, with Islamic rule sustained by detention without trial, torture and state-sanctioned murder.”

Iran Focus is reporting that members of Iran’s Parliament from the north-eastern city of Mashad are angry at foreign and domestic news agencies for reporting the boys’ ages.
The website quotes ultra-conservative deputy Ali Asgari, a member of the Majlis Legal Affairs Committee, as stating that the two deserved to be hanged in public: “Whatever sentence is decreed by an Islamic penal system must be approved, unless proven otherwise. Instead of paying tribute to the action of the judiciary, the media are mentioning the age of the hanged criminals and creating a commotion that harms the interests of the state.” “Even if certain websites made a reference to their age, journalists should not pursue this. These individuals were corrupt. Their sentence was carried out with the approval of the judiciary and it served them right,” said Asgari.

Another Majlis deputy, Effat Shariati, is reported to have told a state-run news agency that “the issue of the age of the convicts is created by those who are causing problems for our country.”

According to Iranian human-rights campaigners, over 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the ayatollahs seized power in 1979,” said Tatchell. “Altogether, an estimated 100,000 Iranians have been put to death over the last 26 years of clerical rule.”

OutRage urged the international community to begin treating Iran “as a pariah state” and to “break off diplomatic relations, impose trade sanctions, and give practical support to the democratic and left opposition inside Iran” and suggested people protest to their nearest Iranian embassy or consulate.

Amnesty International issued a written statement Jul 22 urging the Iranian government to put a final stop to execution of minors and juvenile offenders.

“It is now imperative for Iran to stop sentencing children to death, to end the executions of children, and to halt all forms of violence against children … As a state party to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Iran has undertaken not to execute anyone for an offence committed when they were under the age of 18,” states Amnesty.

Amnesty notes that “for the past four years, the Iranian authorities have been considering legislation that would prohibit the use of the death penalty for offences committed by persons under the age of 18” and that currently “Iran’s Civil Code, the ages of 15 lunar years for boys and nine lunar years for girls are set out as the age of criminal responsibility.”

Amnesty says so far this year, Iran has executed at least four people for crimes committed when they were children, including one who was still a child. Amnesty says it has recorded 42 executions so far in 2005, but that the true number could well be higher.

In Washington, DC, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) issued a letter to Secretary Of State Condoleezza Rice on Jul 22, calling on Rice to condemn the executions “swiftly and forcefully.”

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was signed by the UN General Assembly in 1948, declares that every human should be guaranteed the fundamental right to life, liberty, and security of person and every human should be free from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Tragically, this guarantee of basic human rights does not exist for GLBT individuals in certain regions of the globe,” wrote the HRC.