Three Iranian men on death row for homosexuality offences

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Three Iranian men are thought to be facing the death penalty for having homosexual relations.

The men, named as Nemat Safavi, Mehdi P and Moshen G, have been on death row for three years and allegedly committed the crimes while under the age of 18.

Under Iranian law, homosexuality (lavat) is “punishable by death so long as both the active and passive partners are mature, of sound mind, and have acted of free will”.

Campaigners say this not only conflicts with reports of the men being underage at the time of the offences but is also a gross violation of international law, which forbids, under any circumstance, the execution of juvenile offenders.

While not much is known about the other two men, Safavi’s case was known to Amnesty International in September last year and he is currently on the organisation’s list of minors tried and awaiting execution in Iran.

It is thought that Mehdi P and Moshen G denied the charges against them and no witnesses were found. Safavi was arrested at the age of 16 in 2006 and tried by a court in Ardebil, where he is being held.

A date has not been set for their executions, but according to Human Rights Watch, their lawyers believe it could happen any day.

Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and north Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said: “Killing people for what they did as children is wrong and repellent, and killing them for alleged homosexual conduct is just as wrong and repellent.

“The Iranian government has flouted its most basic human rights obligations in allowing these cruel death sentences.”

Amnesty International spokesman Steve Ballinger told that the organisation had been unable to confirm what Safavi’s current situation was and had no further information.

Ballinger said: “His case is still under review by the Supreme Court but we do not believe he is at an immediate risk of execution.”

He added: “Some activists have suggested that his lawyer has warned that publicity may have an adverse effect on his case. We would not take action at this stage but would issue an urgent appeal if a decision is made.”

According to Human Rights Watch, Iran executes more minors than any other country.

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