Gay MP labelled “conscience of the Commons” over Iran

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British MPs from all parties have signed an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons condemning Iran’s execution of gay people and children.

The motion was tabled by gay Labour MP, Chris Bryant, who represents the south Wales working class constituency of the Rhondda.

Brett Lock of the gay human rights group OutRage!, which helped brief the MP on human rights abuses in Iran, said: “So far, 138 MPs have signed the EDM.

“Many more would have signed had it not been for the summer period when lots of them go away. We are delighted that so many MPs are concerned about the persecution of gay people and of women who don’t conform to Tehran’s hardline interpretation of Islam.”

Mr Lock also praised the MP for raising Iranian human rights abuses during the House of Common’s European Union Affairs debate in June.

“Chris made a moving, informative contribution to the debate, exposing Iran’s increasing use of the death penalty for a wide range of crimes, including violations of Islamic morality.

“When it comes to the barbaric hangings in Iran, Chris is the conscience of the Commons.”

Mr Bryant said in the debate, “Iran’s human rights record is grisly. It has been so for many years, but in many ways it has become worse in the past 18 months. We know that the use of the death penalty in Iran is on the increase: Amnesty International reckons that there were at least 94 instances of its use last year in Iran, and the International Federation of Human Rights estimates a much higher number of cases-between 300 and 400.

“I know that not all hon. Members believe that the death penalty is wrong. I believe that it is wrong in all instances, just as torture is wrong, but it is particularly wrong when it is imposed on minors-those aged under 18. Last year, at least nine people aged under 18 were executed in Iran. In 2004, a 16-year-old girl was hanged for fornication and a 14-year-old boy was whipped to death for eating during Ramadan. That is not a situation that people either in this country or across the European Union can countenance any longer.

“Furthermore, the death penalty is regularly used in Iran for lavaat, or homosexuality.

“Some people have been repatriated to Iran by other European countries and have subsequently been executed. There are, of course, countries in Europe that have a mixed record on those human rights issues, but I believe that the EU has a unique opportunity to

move forward with a robust record on human rights.”

The EDM criticises “Iranian executions of under-age minors, which are in direct contravention of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Iran is a signatory; notes that as many as 4,000 Iranians have been executed for their homosexuality since the Islamic Revolution in 1979; and calls on Iran to stop its campaign of torture, harassment and ill-treatment against gays and to end all executions of minors.” Comment

This motion signals positive support for the gay community in the Middle East, and suggests that politicians are becoming more willing to look after all afflicted citizens in the area, and not just those impacted by war.

However, significant change can only be achieved when atrocities in Iran and other gay-hostile countries are met with the same outrage as deaths in Israel, Lebanon and Palestinian areas of Gaza and the West Bank.