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LGBT Iranians adapt poem about struggles to video

Human rights organizations write open letter to Iranian president

LGBT Iranians are featured in a video that brings to life the JD Kamran poem "I." Credit: (IGLHRC)
LGBT Iranians feature in an IGLHRC-produced video that brings to life a JD Kamran poem. (IGLHRC video)

LGBT Iranians feature in a video in which they interpret the words of a poem by JD Kamran, called "I," that speaks to the violence, discrimination and struggle for acceptance they confront.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) produced the video.

The poem reads in part:

"I have always been here

Not in the pit stoned to death
Not on the gallows
Not in death
I have always been here, in life

Listen to the sound of my voice
Hear my call
Recognize me
I have always been here."

IGLHRC, along with Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO), also issued an open letter to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, expressing concern about the "continuing and systematic state persecution of individuals perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender."

The lengthy Dec 20 letter reads, "For at least the past decade, the authorities have used articles of the Islamic Penal Code criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual relations, along with other laws and regulations governing dress, public conduct, online communications, public employment, and the press and publications to target individuals based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity, or even based on their opinions about these issues."

The organizations highlighted an October 2013 raid by Revolutionary Guards on a private birthday party held in a western Iranian city. They cite witness accounts alleging that security personnel used pepper spray and electric batons on party guests, made some guests strip naked and then filmed them, and prepared them for mock execution.

The letter also refers to other incidents involving the persecution of people based on their perceived sexual orientation, including "mass arrests of men suspected of being gay during raids on a number of private parties in Kerman (2013), Shiraz (2010), Karaj (2009), and Isfahan (2007 and 2006)."