Iranian queers voices heard – radio Zamaneh!

Published: November 30, 2010

Imagine you live in a country that hunts you down and aggressively seeks your death – officially you don’t even exist and any mention is treated with contempt, hate and is a dangerous affair that can cost you and your family life and social standing.   In Iran this is precisely the reality for hundreds of thousands of people belonging to its diverse LGBT communities.   Publicly they are rarely acknowledged and if at all it is with great contempt and hate – they have no representation whatsoever and nothing is spoken or published about them except religious condemnations and the occasional cases of public executions.  In Iran for queers to speak means one of two guaranteed outcomes: at best the affair ends in exile and being disowned by your family and community, at worst – death.  Either way, any voices other than those sanctioned by the regime and tainted by prejudice and hate are brutally silenced.  With no voice to call one’s own the void is filled with isolation, fear and agony.

Having a voice is not only means to call attention to such issues but a space for discussion, self-recognition and affirmation that frees itself from the shackles of hate and prejudice.  But how can Iranian LGBT communities be heard in a country that denies their very existence and actively sends them to their death?  Surprisingly, in early 2009, one answer came from Farid Haeri Nezhad, the director of  Radio Zamaneh. This station was approached by Saghi Garahaman, the CEO of the Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO) of Toronto, and together IRQO and the Radio embarked on a remarkable project. Radio Zamaneh would provide Iranian queers a space and platform from which their voices can be heard.  Furthermore, it would enable gay, lesbians, bi-sexual and trans-gendered people to use this platform to educate the general public about the realities of their lives, as well as issues of human and civil rights. It was called the Queer Section (DegarBash Page). Everyone was acutely aware of the risks that such involvement entails, yet the project went ahead and was launched in late July, 2009.

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