France slams Iran death sentences for female gay rights activists

France condemns the death sentences issued by Iran against two female gay rights activists on charges of promoting homosexuality, in unusual verdicts that have alarmed campaigners.

The two women, Zahra Sedighi Hamedani, 31, and Elham Chubdar, 24, were sentenced to death by the court in the northwestern town of Urmia, according to rights groups.

They were convicted of “spreading corruption on earth” — a charge frequently imposed on defendants deemed to have broken the country’s sharia laws, the Hengaw Kurdish rights organization says.

“France deplores the death sentences issued by Iran for Mrs Elham Chubdar and Mrs Zahra Sedighi Hamedani,” the French foreign ministry says in a statement, emphasizing its universal opposition to the death penalty and support of gay rights.

The sentences are highly unusual verdicts to be issued over homosexuality and activists say they cannot recall a previous case of execution being ordered for a woman over their sexuality in Iran.

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