Homosexuality and Lesbianism is Criminalized in Iran but Not Transgenderism
In 2007, then Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a round of speeches during an extremely controversial international visit to New York City.
His abhorrent, authoritarian and distressing mindset concerning oppression, who is deserving of civil rights and adversarial political countenance to anyone who spoke to him, gave the outside a rare, unfiltered glimpse into how Iranian heads of state think.
As Ahmadinejad was speaking before an audience at Columbia University he shocked and insulted the assembly by exclaiming, “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country…we do not have this phenomenon. I do not know who has told you that we have it.”
While crass and terrifying, Ahmadinejad’s thoughts and ideas about homosexuality revealed a lot about the complex ways the Iranian authorities and the populace views LGBT people.
They do not acknowledge the existence of homosexuality. Transvestites or cross-dressing is not allowed. Anyone caught or suspected of being gay can be harassed, blackmailed, imprisoned or executed.
There are actually degrees of punishment for various acts of same-gender intercourse. If you are gay and single and suspected of being gay or engaging in gay intercourse, one could be savagely flogged or beaten. Gay married men caught soliciting or engaging in same-gender sex could be executed. Lesbians are publicly ridiculed and beaten.
Intercourse between people of the same gender is forbidden upon punishment of imprisonment and even execution. The very act is unthinkable and unspeakable, especially to older generations of Iranians.
Yet, transgenderism is allowed and permitted in the country. There is no legislative or religious law against the act of changing gender. Gender-reassignment surgery is very common and must be insurance-covered by Iranian law. Iranian financial institutions even over loans for the procedure.
It is astonishing to think that such progressive thinking, in terms of transgenderism anyway, is only possible in Iran because of dogmatic practicality instead of open-mindedness.
The LGBT sexual identity is caustically offensive to the Islamic Regime in power in Iran, centuries of religious and tribal thinking and to the Iranian population in general.
In fact, the Iranian family is just as much a threat to LGBT people as police and security authorities.
Iranians who come out to their family are in danger of being imprisoned at home, beaten, disavowed and ostracized from family entirely and evicted from home. Some Iranians are even raped by furiously homophobic relatives, a horrific act that doesn’t make any sense if the point is hatred of homosexuality.
Gay dating apps are always monitored by Iranian security and police authorities. Most gay Iranian men, who are usually unhappily, closeted married men, turn to clandestine, unsafe sexual encounters with male prostitutes or complete strangers.
Such actions leave gay Iranian men in danger of blackmail from their hookup partners. Some vigilantes and homophobic killers even set up gay men to be killed
There isn’t enough or effective preventative education about HIV/AIDS, especially in regards to unsafe LGBT sex, since the very idea is anathema to the Iranian mindset.
Iranian people are tragically and dangerously ignorant about HIV/AIDS and how it is transmitted. According to Iran’s Health Minister, who gave interviewed and commented on the issue publicly in 2013, over 70 percent of Iranians may not know that they are HIV positive or have full blown AIDS. Anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 Iranians may be living with HIV/AIDS, although that number is only a raw estimate.
One thing is for certain: the complexities, intolerance and violence surrounding the LGBT identity and HIV/AIDS is bound get progressively worse unless something is done.
Even though Iranian authorities may acknowledge homosexuality exists, they won’t do so publicly or protect the public with preventative, safer sex education.
Nothing good will come from that.