Monday, September 24, 2007

No gays in Iran?

The New York Times had Live Blogging on Iranian leader, Ahmadinejad, speaking at Columbia University, (click here).

In response to a question about the treatment of homosexuals in Iran, Mr. Ahmadinejad started talking about the death penalty, which, he pointed out, exists in the United States, saying:
“People who violate the laws by using guns, creating insecurity selling guns, distributing guns at a high level are sentenced to execution in Iran. Very few of these punishments are carried out in the public eye.”

It seems like there may be radically different cultural concepts and translation problems going on when trying to talk about homosexuality. Ahmadinejad speaks Farsi, not English, and has to be translated. It sounds like "gay" got translated into something that means merely "sexual criminal" with the emphasis on the "criminal." Either that, or Mr. Ahmadinejad is seriously loony tunes.

When pressed on the subject about the "rights of gay men and lesbians" in Iran, Mr. Ahmadinejad said:
“In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country. We don’t have that in our country.”

What the fuck!? That's impossible. The audience, of course, booed, hissed and laughed. In spite of the audience reaction Ahmadinejad pressed on:
“In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I do not know who has told you that we have it. But as for women, maybe you think that maybe being a woman is a crime. It’s not a crime to be a woman. Women are the best creatures created by God. They represent the kindness, the beauty that God instills in them. Women are respected in Iran.”

Let's check out Wikipedia for "LGBT_rights_in_Iran" to see how things are viewed in wikiality. There we find that since the Iranian Revolution of 1979 there has been an increasing lack of tolerance toward homosexuality. It's a crime under the country's theocratic Islamic government as is all types of sexual activity outside a heterosexual marriage. It certainly exists, and there have been news reports out of Iran about gays being executed.

Since the 1979 Iranian revolution, the legal code has been based on a conservative interpretation of Islamic Shari'a law and consensual gay sex in any form is punishable by death in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Gays have been hanged in the city square of Mashhad in north-eastern Iran, by orders of Court. The religious authorities sometimes charge gays with "rape" instead of the "crime" of homosexuality. Usually there is no legal distinction between consensual or non-consensual sexual activity.

Those charged with homosexuality are given a choice of four death styles: being hanged, stoned, halved by a sword, or dropped from the highest perch. If two men not related by blood are discovered naked under one cover without good reason, both will be punished at a judge's discretion. Teens are also punished at a judge's discretion. According to Iranian human rights campaigners, over 4000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979.

It hasn't always been this way. There is a large amount of literature in Persian that explicitly illustrates the ancient existence of homosexuality among Iranians. There is Persian poetry, ghazals (love poems), and texts in Saadi's Bustan and Gulistan that are homoerotic. It was more tolerated before 1979, during the Shah's regime. Under the rule of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the last monarch of the Pahlavi Dynasty, homosexuality was tolerated, even to the point of allowing news coverage of a same-sex wedding. Up until the revolution, there were some night clubs where gay behavior was tolerated.

1 comment:

tina said...

That's fu#@ed up! I heard about this on the news.