The foreign minister of Iran has told journalists that his country’s policy of executing gay people is justified on the basis of morality.
Mohammad Javad Zarif made the shocking statement at a press conference with German foreign minister Heiko Maasin Tehran on Monday.
According to Business Insider, Zarif was asked about the country’s death penalty for homosexuality by Bild reporter Paul Ronzheimer.
Zarif responded that, “Our society has moral principles, and according to these principles we live.”
He continued: “These are moral principles regarding the behaviour of people in general. And that’s because the law is upheld and you abide by laws.”
In January, it was reported that a 31-year-old unidentified man had been publicly hanged in the southwestern city of Kazeroon after being found guilty of having sex with another man.
A 2008 report claimed that between “4,000 and 6,000 gay men and lesbians were executed in Iran for crimes related to their sexual preference” in Iran since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. There have also been numerous incidents over the years in which teenage boys have been hanged for having sex with other teen boys.
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.
Iran is one of six UN member states that impose the death penalty on consensual same-sex sexual acts. The others are Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yeme. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) reports that there are a further five states where such a punishment is technically possible.
In more than 20 other countries the maximum penalty for homosexuality can vary between 10 years to life imprisonment.