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Iran’s Barbaric Execution of Three Gay Men Signals Dangerous Direction

Christy Carnegie Fujio, JD, MA, and Sari Long on September 12, 2011

Two weeks ago, Iran executed three men because they were gay. Iranian authorities rarely admit executing prisoners on the basis of sexuality – typically they are killed on trumped-up charges like kidnapping or burglary – but here the men were explicitly charged with the crime of intercourse between men. The government’s willingness to openly charge then execute men for sodomy signals a dangerous shift in policy that could harm thousands of people in Iran. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is infamous for his denial that gays exist in his country, but it seems that his state of denial has now turned to active persecution of the gay population.

The victims have been identified only by their initials. Their ages were not revealed. All that is known is that early in the morning on September 4, three men lost their lives, convicted under Chapter Three of the Iranian Islamic penal code, which calls for death for the crime of sodomy.

Iran is one of seven countries with laws penalizing homosexuality with the death penalty. The last time people were executed for the stated crime of homosexuality in Iran was in 2005 when the state hanged two teenage boys

Executing people on the basis of their sexuality is a violation of the most basic human rights. Furthermore, the execution of these three men is part of a dangerous trend in Iran. There have been, on average, two executions per day in the first half of 2011. It is a precarious time for the gay population in Iran, and the US needs to make an unequivocal statement against this reprehensible and hateful action.

Places: Iran