Gay community to remember hanged teenagers

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Labour MP Chris Bryant will be hosting a meeting at the House of Commons tomorrow evening to mark the first anniversary of Iran’s hanging of two gay teenagers.

Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni were publicly executed in Iran last year, because according to the regime they were rapists, however gay campaigners insist the boys were killed under Sharia law for the crime of homosexuality.

Participants at the event will see new information on the executions and will call for Iran to “Stop Killing Gays! Stop Killing Kids!”

It will be addressed by Mr Bryant, Labour MP for Rhondda, Green Party MEP Jean Lambert MEP, and Simon Forbes and Peter Tatchell of gay rights group OutRage.

The House of Commons meeting is also open to the public.

Outrage’s Ramzi Isalam, a gay Muslim Algerian refugee, said: “We mourn the many lesbian and gay victims of Iran’s homophobic regime, and express our solidarity with all Iranians who are working for social justice, democracy and human rights.

“We stand united with our gay brothers and sisters in Iran who face the threat of arrest, imprisonment, flogging, torture and execution.

“OutRage! urges the British government to give a public undertaking to halt the deportation of Iranian asylum seekers who have fled persecution. Deportation is a potential death sentence.” .

The House of Commons meeting is one of 24 global protests on 19 July against Iran’s execution of gay people and children.

Demonstrations will be held in Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Chicago, Fort Lauderdale, Frankfurt, London, Marseilles, Mexico City, Moscow, New York, Provincetown, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Sioux Falls, Stockholm, Tehran,

Toronto, Vancouver, Vienna, Warsaw and Washington DC.

Afdhere Jama, editor of the queer Muslim magazine Huriyah supports the view that Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni were gay and that they were hanged because of their

homosexuality. He bases his belief on evidence he received from three people in the city of Mashhad, where they were hanged, including information from a person who knows the family of Ayaz Marhoni.

Mr Jama said: “According to my sources, the boys were arrested about a year and

couple of months before the execution. On the day of their arrest, five boys were fondling each other in a semi-public area. Their ages were 13, 14, 15, 15 (Mahmoud), and 17 (Ayaz). These are all boys that knew each other, and had homosexual relations with each other (perhaps for years).

“A woman called her civilian police husband who then tried to arrest them all (with the help of civilians), but only Ayaz, Mahmoud and a 13 year old boy were caught.

“Because the age of consent for men in Iran is 15, the 13 year old boy is automatically then classified raped by then15 year old Mahmoud and 17 year old Ayaz. So, in the eyes of the Iranian law, that boy was raped. Whether the other boys were a few years older or not is not even a question, not to mention whether he (the 13 year old) was a

willing participant. Because the issue is homosexuality, it even carries a harsher sentence.

“It should be noted that none of the claims about ‘knife’ and ‘drunk’ are true, but trumped up claims to support how these ‘heterosexual’ boys raped a ‘heterosexual’ teen. The father of the 13 year old boy claimed his son was raped because in the conservative society of Iran it is much better to have a heterosexual raped son than a homosexual

willing participant. Everyone and anyone from the east can identify

with this.

“In reality, however, these boys faced many charges, including resisting arrest (for running away), disrupting public peace (because apparently the whole neighbourhood was in chaos because everyone wanted to hurt the boys who were committing homosexuality), public indecency (for having homosexual sex in public), and ultimately for homosexual/sodomy rape of men (which carries much tougher penalty than

a heterosexual rape, for the 13 year old.)

Mr Tatchell said: “A year-long investigation into this case has revealed that the

regime’s allegations against the two hanged youths, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, are riddled with contradictions, implausibilities and outright lies.

“At first it was claimed by Iranian officials that they were aged 18 and 19, then that they were 19 and 21, then aged 18 and 20, and finally they made the claim that they were both above 18 at the time of their alleged crimes.

“However, the best evidence is that both youths were aged 17 when they were executed and therefore minors, aged 15 or 16, at the time of their alleged crimes. This execution of minors is in flagrant breach of international agreements the Tehran regime has signed.

“The method of hanging was specifically designed to cause a slow, painful death by strangulation.

“Concerning their crimes, at first it was claimed that they committed one rape and were child molesters, then that they had committed several rapes. By the autumn of 2005, the supporters of the regime were spreading rumours that they were serial child killers.

“Local sources in Mashhad state that Mahmoud and Ayaz were lovers, not rapists or child abusers – contrary to the homophobic propaganda of the Iranian regime and its western left-wing and Islamist apologists.

“Witnesses report seeing them together and obviously in love at a private party in 2003.

“Mahmoud and Ayaz were charged with the capital crime of homosexuality after a disapproving family member reported their relationship to the police.

“At least one, and possibly both, of the hanged boys were members of Iran’s persecuted Arab minority. Racism appears to have played a part in the stereotypical way they were portrayed by the regime as being ‘underclass’ thieves and hooligans.

“Informants inside Iran make it clear that the boys were of good character and that they came from decent, law-abiding families whose fathers had good jobs.

“The execution of Mahmoud and Ayaz conforms to a pattern of state torture and murder of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people by the Iranian clerical regime.

“In publicised executions of gay people, the men are often accused of the kidnap and rape of a younger male. All such allegations need to be treated with extreme scepticism, as they tend to follow a suspiciously stereotypical formula.

“By instituting charges of kidnap and rape, the Iranian authorities apparently hope to discredit the victims, discourage public protests and deflect international condemnation. They calculate that there will be little Iranian or international sympathy for people hanged for crimes like abduction and sexual assault.”