Protests are planned for next week around the world to campaign against the Iranian government’s persecution of gays and lesbians and to commemorate the first anniversary of the hanging of two apparently gay teenagers last year.

“The Persian Gay and Lesbian Organisation endorses the worldwide 19 July protests, which commemorate the execution of gay lovers Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni and condemn the Iranian regime’s persecution of its gay and lesbian citizens,” said Arsham Parsi, secretary of Iran’s leading gay organisation, the PGLO.

New information obtained from sources inside Iran by Afdhere Jama, editor of the queer Muslim magazine Huriyah, confirm that the Mahmoud and Ayaz were lovers not rapists as claimed by the Iranian government, and that they were hanged because of their homosexuality. Photographs of the hanging of the two boys were circulated on the Internet leading to widespread outrage and anger.

The boys, aged 15 (Mahmoud), and 17 (Ayaz), were both minors. Authorities claimed at the time that they were part of a group of boys that raped another 13 year old teenager. According to Iranian activists however, sources who knew the boys insist that they, and another two teenagers, were caught fondling each other in a semi-public area and that the 13 year old was an active participant.

It has been repeatedly reported that gays and lesbians are regularly arrested, flogged and beaten by the authorities.

“We urge cities all over the world to show solidarity with our freedom struggle. Your solidarity is tremendously important and effective,” added Mr Parsi. The global protests are backed by the International Lesbian & Gay Association.

19 July protests are confirmed in 24 cities worldwide including Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Frankfurt, London, Marseilles, Mexico City, Moscow, New York, Provincetown, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Sioux Falls, Stockholm, Tehran, Toronto, Vancouver, Vienna, Warsaw and Washington DC.

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