A 25-year-old gay Iranian man, living now
in Turkey as a recognised refugee.

A new report by Human Rights Watch has documented the ongoing discrimination and violence against LGBT people in Iran.

Titled, We are a Buried Generation: Discrimination and Violence Against Sexual Minorities in Iran, the report is based on testimony from more than 100 Iranians whose sexual practices and gender expression do not conform to government-endorsed socio-religious norms.

“Members of sexual minorities in Iran are hounded on all sides,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

“The laws are stacked against them; the state openly discriminates against them; and they are vulnerable to harassment, abuse, and violence because their perpetrators feel they can target them with impunity.”

Iran’s security forces, including police and forces of the hard-line paramilitary basij, are accused of harassing and detaining individuals whom they suspect of being gay.

The report also documents instances in which police and basij allegedly ill-treated and in some cases tortured real or suspected LGBT people, both in public spaces and detention facilities. Several individuals say that members of the security forces had sexually assaulted or raped them.

Iran is one of seven countries with laws allowing executions for consensual same-sex conduct. Iranian newspapers have published many accounts of executions for same-sex conduct – although most are said by the government to be non-consensual incidents.

Cases are, however, difficult to monitor as most are heard in non-public trials. Because of the lack of transparency, Human Rights Watch said, it cannot be ruled out that Iran is sentencing sexual minorities who engage in consensual same-sex relations to death under the guise that they have committed forcible sodomy or rape.

Human Rights Watch also pointed out that a number of the offenders were under 18 when they allegedly committed the acts.

“Iran is not only one of the rare countries that imposes the death penalty for consensual same-sex relations, it also has people sitting on death row who allegedly committed sodomy as minors,” Whitson said. “Every time the Iranian judiciary issues a death sentence for consensual sex, or against a juvenile offender, it is violating its international legal obligations.”

Human Rights Watch called on the Iranian government to abolish all laws that criminalise homosexuality and to release anyone being held under these laws.

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