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LGBT activists in Iran sentenced to death

LGBT activists in Iran sentenced to death

According to human rights organizations, two LGBT activists in Iran have been sentenced to death.

Zahra Seddiqi Hamedani, 31, and Elham Choubdar, 24, were found guilty of “corruption on Earth” by an Urmia court.

According to the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, they were accused of promoting homosexuality, and Christianity, and communicating with anti-Islamic Republic media.

The sentences were later confirmed by Iran’s judiciary, but they were linked to human trafficking rather than activism.

“Contrary to what has been reported in cyberspace and rumours, these two individuals have been accused of deceiving women and young girls and trafficking them to one of the region’s countries,” the judiciary’s news outlet Mizan reported.

Amnesty International previously described her as a “gender non-conforming human rights defender” who was detained “solely because of her real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as her social media posts and statements in defence of [LGBT] rights.”

It was reported that she was apprehended by the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) in October 2021 while attempting to cross into Turkey to seek asylum.

It cited her as saying she was kidnapped for 53 days and that an IRGC agent subjected her to “intense interrogations accompanied by verbal abuse” and “threatened to execute or otherwise harm her and take custody of her two young children.”

According to Amnesty International, Seddiqi Hamedani was brought before a prosecutor in Urmia, the largest city in West Azerbaijan, in January and accused of “spreading corruption on Earth,” including by promoting homosexuality, communicating with hostile media, and promoting Christianity.

According to the group, the first two accusations stemmed from her social media defence of LGBT rights and her appearance in a May 2021 BBC documentary about abuses suffered by LGBT people in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region, where she had been living.

Same-sex sexual conduct is a criminal offence in Iran, with penalties ranging from flogging to the death penalty.

According to Amnesty International, the accusation of promoting Christianity stemmed from wearing a cross necklace and attending a house church in Iran several years ago.

Citizens who do not identify as Christians, Zoroastrians, or Jews are not permitted to engage in public religious expression in Iran.

Seddiqi Hamedani recorded a video before attempting to flee Iran, in which she stated, “I want you to know how much pressure we LGBT people face.” We put our lives in danger for our emotions, but we will discover our true selves… I hope that one day we will all be able to live freely in our country.”

“I’m on my way to freedom right now… If I don’t make it, I’ll have died for this cause.”

Hengaw gave no information about Elham Choubdar other than the fact that she was from Urmia.

Also read:  Iran vows to avenge their assassinated colonel’s death

The Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network (6-Rang), based in Germany, also confirmed the two activists’ death sentences and urged foreign governments to put pressure on Iran to release them.

“This is the first time in Iran that a woman has been sentenced to death for her sexual orientation,” AFP news agency spokeswoman Shadi Amin said.

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