Humanity Denied:The Violations of the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Persons in IRAN

Published: September 29, 2011


1. Discrimination and violence against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Iran is widespread in its scope and horrific in its consequences. This report does not undertake a comprehensive analysis of this culture of violence and discrimination. It is rather restricted to raising concerns about the most serious human violations faced by LGBT persons in Iran. As such, it examine three internationally recognized human rights which are of great relevance to sexual minorities: the right to life, the right not to be tortured or subjected to inhumane or degrading treatment, and the right to freedom of expression; and it examines the manner in which the Iranian government violates them with respect to sexual minorities.

I. Religious, Penal and Political Approaches to Homosexuality
2. Under Shari’a law, the issues relating to homosexuality are all discussed under the category of lavat [consummated sexual activity between men] and mosahegheh [consummated sexual activity between women]. Various punishments exist in the Islamic Jurisprudence for the offences of lavat and mosahegheh. Some of the most severe punishments have been, however, prescribed by the school of Shi’ism. The following statement by a religious scholar of this school is indicative of the kind of punishment prescribed:

For homosexuals, men or women, Islam has given the most severe punishments … After it has been proved on the basis of Sharia, they should seize him [or her], they should keep him standing, they should split him in two with a sword, they should either cut off his neck or they should split him from the head … He will fall down … After he is dead, they bring logs, make a fire and place the corpse on the logs, set fire to it and burn it. Or it should be taken to the top of a mountain and thrown down. Then the parts of the corpse should be gathered and burnt. Or they should dig a hole; make a fire in the hole and throw him alive into the fire. We do not have such punishments for other offences.1

3. The perspective presented above fundamentally informs and shapes the approach of Iran’s penal regime to homosexuality.

4. Article 111 of Iran’s Islamic Penal Code states “lavat [consummated sexual activity between males, whether penetrative or not] is punishable by death so long as both the active and passive partners are mature, of sound mind, and have acted of free will.”

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