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Amnesty reports Iran executed 2 gay men over sodomy charges

Mehrdad Karimpour and Farid Mohammadi, after 6 years on death row, were hanged in a prison in northwestern city of Maragheh

Illustrative photo of a gallows (raw206; iStock by Getty Images)
Illustrative photo of a gallows (raw206; iStock by Getty Images)

Iran has executed two gay men who were convicted on charges of sodomy and spent six years on death row, a rights group reported.

Homosexuality is illegal in Iran, considered one of the most repressive places in the world for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

According to a report on Sunday by the Human Rights Activists News Agency, the two men were identified as Mehrdad Karimpour and Farid Mohammadi.

They were sentenced to death for “forced sexual intercourse between two men” and hanged in a prison in the northwestern city of Maragheh, some 500 kilometers (310 miles) from the capital, Tehran.

Last July, two other men were executed on the same charges in Maragheh, the group said. It added that last year, Iran executed 299 people, including four convicted of crimes committed as children. Also in 2021, Iran sentenced 85 people to death.

Rights activist held over appearance on BBC

Amnesty International last Tuesday urged Iran to free an Iranian LGBTI activist held for the last three months on charges linked to an appearance in a BBC documentary on gay rights in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Zahra Sedighi-Hamadan had been based in Iraqi Kurdistan but was arrested by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards on October 27 while seeking to flee to neighboring Turkey, Amnesty said at the time.

After a 53-day period of “forced disappearance” in solitary confinement in the northwestern Iranian city of Orumiyeh, she was in January brought before Iranian prosecutors and charged with “spreading corruption on earth” and “promoting homosexuality.”

Amnesty said that the charges stemmed from her public defense of LGBTI rights on her social media platforms and an appearance in a BBC documentary aired in May 2021 about the abuses that LGBTI people suffer in the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq (KRG).

She had decided to leave Iraqi Kurdistan after being detained by the regional authorities there. It appears she crossed into Iran again before seeking to head for Turkey.

“Iran’s authorities must immediately release…. Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani, unjustly detained since October 2021 due to her real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity and her public defense of LGBTI rights,” Amnesty said.

Activists frequently decry Iran’s treatment of LGBTI individuals.

Homosexuality is banned in Iran with its penal code explicitly criminalizing same-sex sexual behavior for both men and women.

Iranian gay rights group 6Rang (6 Colours) had initially drawn attention to the disappearance of Sedighi-Hamadani — also known as Sareh — in December.

It said before leaving the KRG she had sent the group videos to be made public in case she failed to make it to safety.

“We, the LGBTI community, are suffering. Whether through death or freedom, we will remain true to ourselves,” she said in one of the videos.

“I hope to achieve freedom,” she added, also alleging she had been tortured with methods including electrocution while in Iraqi Kurdish custody.

Alarming death penalty rates

Last October, the UN’s independent investigator on human rights in Iran, Javaid Rehman told the UN General Assembly’s human rights committee that Iran continues to implement the death penalty “at an alarming rate.”

Under Iranian law, sodomy, rape, adultery, armed robbery and murder are among crimes that can lead to the death penalty.

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