Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni just before they were executed in 2005
A private party in Iran has ended in panic and tragedy after police raided the event and rounded up more than 30 men for being homosexual.
According to the group Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR), the raid took place on 13 Apil in Bahadoran. Police are reported to have fired shots and attacked and beaten the guests.
Those arrested range between the ages of 16 and 30. Police detained them at the Basij (Revolutionary Guard Militia) Station and then transferred them to Esfahan’s Dastgerd Prison.
“A few people managed to escape and we received reports that there were several heterosexual individuals among those arrested,” said IRQR.
The organisation also revealed that the families of the men “were informed by Basij that their sons were arrested for sodomy”.
A special persecutor has been assigned to the cases and the men have been charged with sodomy, drinking alcohol, and using psychedelic drugs.
It was further reported that the prisoners will be sent to Esfahan’s Medical Jurisprudence department for anal examinations in order to provide “evidence” of homosexual acts to the court. (International experts agree that these tests are unethical and do not have any medical or evidentiary value.)
Under the Islamic Punishment Code in Iran, homosexuality is punishable by death and a judge is able to sentence the accused based on evidence such as a medical report.
“This unfortunate event has created chaos among the LGBT community in Esfahan since prisoners were forced to write down full names of all their LGBT friends and acquaintances,” said IRQR.
In July 2016, Hassan Afshar, a 19-year-old boy (he was 17 when arrested), was executed in Iran on charges of raping another boy. There are claims that the sex was actually consensual and activists have accused the government of hiding consensual gay executions under the guise of rape.
Afshar’s execution is similar to that of Mahmoud Asgari, 16, and Ayaz Marhoni, 18, on July 19, 2005. While the Iranian government stated that they were executed for raping a 13-year-old boy, British LGBT activists claimed that they were killed for consensual homosexual acts.
According to Amnesty International, male individuals who engage in same-sex anal intercourse face different punishments under Iranian criminal law depending on whether they are the “active” or “passive” partners and whether their conduct is deemed consensual or non-consensual.
If the conduct is deemed consensual, the “passive” partner of same-sex anal conduct shall be sentenced to the death penalty. The “active” partner, however, is sentenced to death only if he is married, or if he is not a Muslim and the “passive” partner is a Muslim.
If the intercourse is deemed non-consensual, the “active” partner receives the death penalty but the “passive” partner is exempted from punishment and treated as a victim.
This legal framework risks creating a situation where willing “recipients” of anal intercourse may feel compelled, when targeted by the authorities, to characterise their consensual sexual activity as rape in order to avoid the death penalty.