The Mullahs’ Gulag for Gays

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In September 2007, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stood before an audience of college students and faculty at Columbia University and made the perverse claim that there were no homosexuals in Iran. “In Iran we do not have this phenomenon, I don’t know who has told you that we have it,” he said. Ahmadinejad’s comments, made in a year in which Iran had executed 200 people, homosexuals among them, made shock waves around the globe. Yet the absurdity of the official denial may also have been unintentionally salutary, spotlighting as it did the terrible plight of homosexuals in the Islamic Republic.

There is a good reason that Iran’s theocratic dictatorship denies the existence of gays inside the country. An honest acknowledgment of reality would force the authorities to acknowledge that Iranian gays are regularly marginalized, harassed, tortured, and executed. Sometimes, they are forced into gender-altering operations. Ahmadinejad’s claim also called attention to the hypocrisy of the international community on the issue of gay rights in Iran. President Ahmadinejad’s absurd claim received overwhelming disapproval, yet when Iranian homosexuals are routinely abused and lawfully executed simply for their sexual preferences, that same international community, and the “progressive” Left that claims to champion gay rights, are deafeningly silent.

More recently, hundreds of thousands of Americans protested to overturn California’s Proposition 8, the legislation introduced on the California ballot in November of 2008 limiting the definition of a legal marriage to exclude same-sex unions. The measure passed and incited protests and demonstrations across California and the rest of the nation. Homosexual couples fervently began to file lawsuits with California’s Supreme Court. Prior to election day, opponents raised $43.3 million in their campaign to turn down the proposition, making it the highest-funded campaign on any state ballot. It exceeded every campaign in the country except the presidential race.

As the progressive backlash against Prop 8 indicates, gay rights are a significant and sensitive issue for Americans, particularly on the Left. But despite passionate outbreaks by the gay community and others, Americans have been uncharacteristically uninterested in the brutal treatment of homosexuals in Iran. These advocates ardently insist that homosexuals have the right to wed, to raise children, and to live as others do, yet they turn a blind eye to the execution of gays in Iran simply for their sexual orientation.

Such executions are in fact enshrined in Iranian law, where homosexuality is punishable the death penalty. Human rights groups estimate that almost 4,000 gays have been executed since 1979, when the Islamic regime took power. Gays are arrested, beaten, tortured, and in most cases, hanged or even stoned.

Sharia, or Islamic law, the legal code applied in Iran, prohibits any type of sexual activity outside the realm of heterosexual marriage. No distinction is made between consensual and non-consensual relations nor between sexual activities conducted in private or public. Any sexual relations other than the traditional marriage between a man and woman—referring to sodomy or adultery, as we’ve recently seen in the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, the woman sentenced to stoning for allegedly having an extra-marital affair—is punishable by death.

All sects of Islam prohibit homosexuality, calling it “a violation of the supreme will of God,” but there are varying opinions among different schools of religious jurisprudence on the punishment and proof required. In the case of homosexuals, men are punished more severely since intercourse is involved. Lesbianism is likewise prohibited, but punishment is not as harsh.

In the Qur’an, homosexuals are referred to as qaum Lut, or “the people of Lot,” which alludes to the Biblical character Lot, who was sent by God to go to the land of Sodom and Gomorrah to preach to the inhabitants there against their lustful and wicked ways. Lot’s warnings were ignored and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. Muslims believe the people of Lot’s depravity stemmed from murder, robbery and homosexuality.

At the same time, older males experimenting with younger males has been a part of Islamic societies for centuries as a way to ease sexual temptation in a segregated society that condemns pre-marital sex. Celebrated Iranian poets have often referred to the love between men and young boys in century-old poetry.

Iran is currently one of five Muslim countries to apply capital punishment to homosexuals along with Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Sudan, and Yemen, according to the 2010 International Lesbian Gay Association’s World Legal Survey. Under the Taliban, Afghanistan also applied the death penalty, as did Sadaam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. After the collapse of the Taliban regime, Afghanistan began punishing homosexuality with fines and imprisonment. In Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Islamist militia followed the Taliban’s lead, attacking, torturing and murdering hundreds of gay men in “honor killings.”

Under the rule of the late Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, homosexuality was accepted to the extent that there was often news coverage of same-sex wedding c ceremonies. Gay rights were a popular item, and there were even some nightclubs that specifically catered to homosexual patrons. According to Janet Afary, professor of global religion and modernity at the University of California Santa Barbara, one of the critiques made about the Shah’s government, eventually leading up to the Revolution of 1979, was that it was excessively liberal on moral issues, such as homosexuality.

Today, the only way for gays to be integrated into Iranian society is to live as transsexuals. They are still marginalized and harassed, but nonetheless can live more openly in society as transgendered. Iranian gays are encouraged by the government to have sex change operations.

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  • Wideband

    Where's the response from gayboy in the UK? Isn't torture and murder far worse than considering impeachment for a judge? I thought stoning and hanging was something "lovely Christians" did. When was the last time that you saw any of that in the US (without severe consequences)? I guess he just doesn't want to comment on the laws and customs of a country where he doesn't live. Oh wait….

  • Heather

    The Left continues to be negligent and hypocritical when it comes to defending some basic human rights.

  • garretso

    Who ever thought that the United States Armed Forces would be the defacto protectors of gay people in the Muslim World.

  • Grandma

    Islam's answer to all of the world's "ills" is murder. It's like a doctor saying they have cured a patient's disease, the patient died, he is cured.

    They really believe that if they allow any differing from the strict Koranic teachings that all of society is doomed. They protect the people by killing them.

    This religion creates psychopathic thinking and behavior. A complete inhuman lack of conscience is bred into them from the first whisper into an infant's ear.

    There is no conscience, there is only submission. There is no thinking, only submission.

    If we don't act now, we will have one enormous mess in the U.S. Not only are they pro-communism but they believe that we should surrender along with them to the shariah law.

    I'd rather be dead.

  • SoundDoc

    The left, who support gay marriages and gay agendas, want to allow Muslims in to hang them? Nancy would look lovely in a burhka..

  • Clarence

    God loves gays and proved it by allowing his Son, the second person of the Godhead to die a substitutionary death to give them and us all the opportunity to have loving fellowship here on earth and throughout eternity in his home in heavens Glory. However, God is not a man, he is HOLY and anything less than that standard will not occupy anyplace in his home because Light and darkness cannot dwell in the same place simultaneously, therefore, we must be born again…gay sodomites, jews, gentiles…everyone, everywhere.

    Repent (change and turn), believe (trust) in and receive Yeshua (Jesus) as your Lord and eternal faithful friend by confessing your sins and asking him for cleansing and power to walk in light and truth / He will do it and you won't regret it.Don't be hoodwinked…PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Clarence from Chicago

    • aspacia

      How many unmarried men on Jesus age were there during his life? Which alludes to what? Jesus never married according to Biblical text. Think about it.

  • Wes in MT

    just a minor correction: Lot was not "sent" by God to Sodom and Gommorah. He left his uncle Abraham to find greener pastures. According to the Biblical account, Abraham pleaded with God to spare the city from judgement – in the end, God sent angels to rescue Lot by way of warning him of the destruction to come. As the story is told, the citizens accosted Lots home, demanding that he turn over his guests so that they could have their way with them, refusing Lot's offer of his own daughters.
    To defend homosexual rights is no different than promoting rights for alcoholics. The behaviour is self-destructive on so many levels – Long live the truth.

  • traveler

    In 1781, Thomas Jefferson (remember him), authored a bill penalizing 'same-sex' behavior with castration. This depravity is so evil every state initially had the death penalty for it. In 2010, America has parades to celebrate it. So, tell me where we are

  • Jim Johnson

    The liberals argue that Iran is not our country. An odd argument since they did not mind interfering in South Africa. The Liberal are Masters of Contradiction. The are also Masters of Hypocrisy.
    Consider the Mayor of NY. Claims to be supporting the Cordoba house in an effort to fight bigotry and support understanding between peoples. By now the public does in fact have have a profound understanding that The Mayor would rather they did not have.
    The public understands that the Mayor is now involved in doing a profitable business with Islamic Banks.
    In other words he his desire to bring understanding between people is really his desire to bring him together with a large fortune.

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    You know, it is deplorable that Iran executes Gay people. It is also deplorable that United Nations condemnation of Iran's practices is supported (through the World Congress of Families) by prominent Republicans/Conservatives in the United States such as C-FAM, the American Family Association, and Watchmen on the Walls and the Latter Day Saint Foundation. These pro-Isreali settler parties would doubtfully ever be called out onto the carpet by Conservatives. I would also remind the readers that the Isreali right wing (including Shas) appears to be violently anti-gay and is tied to the movement to deny Gay Isrealis the right to protest in front of their own national congress. Settler party right wing Isrealis – not Muslim Arabs – are suspected in a massacre at a Tel Aviv Gay Youth center.

    We are intersted in the situation in Iran. But we recognize that prominent American Conservative Groups are cheerleading Iran and Syria at the UN. And suspect that these stories are being used by the viciously, and VIOLENTLY anti-Gay settlers/right wing movement in Israel out of pure hypocrisy.

  • Tom in Lazybrook

    Oops I meant that the United Nations Condemnation of Iranian and Syrian jailing and executions of Gays was opposed by the World Congress of Families, of which the Latter Day Saint Foundation, the American Family Association, etc. are members in good standing.

  • AveryC.

    How much opium were the writers of the Quran on? To this day it's an epidemic in the middle east. Not surprising. You'd have to be nearly brain dead to swallow that crap.