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There’s no anti-gay pogrom in Iran

Published Jun 24, 2006 8:56 AM

Google the word “Iran” with the keywords “gay” or “transsexual” and thousands of English-language articles and blog entries pop up, the vast majority generated after two young men were executed in Mashad, Iran, on July 19, 2005.

Within hours, gay neo-conservative jour nalist Andrew Sullivan, former editor of the New Republic magazine, wrote a blog account entitled “Islamists Versus Gays.”

The London-based gay rights group Outrage! posted a media release stating, “Two gay teenagers were publicly executed in Iran on 19 July 2005 for the ‘crime’ of homosexuality.”

Gay political pundit Doug Ireland, a longtime journalist for the Nation magazine, also declared in his blog headline: “Iran Executes 2 Gay Teenagers.”

In cyberspace, this interpretation raced at the speed of light down the Internet information highway.

While Outrage! claimed that the Iranian Students News Agency had published an item on the morning of July 19, 2005, saying that the two young men were executed for consensual gay sex, even Human Rights Watch says the headline and the first sentence of the article make it clear they were hanged for rape, or “sodomy by coercion”— “lavat beh onf.”

And some anti-Iranian imperialist media monopolies—including the New York Times, Associated Press, Fox News Channel and Times of London—also mentioned that the two were executed for taking part with at least three others in abducting and gang-raping a 13-year-old boy at knife point.

Radio Free Europe—also no friend to Tehran—ran a lengthy report on Sept. 1, 2005, entitled “Iran: Is There an Anti-Homosexual Campaign?” The article concluded, “It is clear that officially and in practice, there is discrimination against homosexuals in Iran. However, systematic repression of homosexuals does not seem to be an issue.”

Project GayRussia.Ru published an online interview, dated Aug. 25, 2005, with the publishers of MAHA—an Iranian gay Farsi-language e-magazine. The MAHA representative explained, “The GLBT situation in Iran has changed over the past 26 years. The regime does not systematically persecute gays anymore, there are still some gay websites, there are some parks and cinemas where everyone knows that these places are meeting places for gays; furthermore it is legal in Iran that a transsexual applies for sex change and it is fully accepted by the government. There are some medias which sometimes (not often) write about such issues. Having said that, the Islamic law, according to which gays’ punishment is death, is still in force but it is thought not much followed by the regime nowadays.” (www.gayrussia.ru)

This more nuanced view of the situation facing the LGBT community in Iran doesn’t fit in with U.S. finance capital’s propaganda war, which is demanding “regime change” in order to re-conquer the oil wealth, land and labor of 70 million Iranian people. In such a bellicose climate, progressives must be vigilant against any reports—real, manufactured or exaggerated—that seem to support the imperialist re-enslavement of Iran.