Vigil marks 10th anniversary of Iran hanging two gay teens

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A vigil took place in London today to mark the 10th anniversary of the hanging of two Iranian gay teenagers.

Ten years ago, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni were hanged publicly in the city of Mashhad.

Today in London, the Peter Tatchell Foundation and the African LGBT group Out and Proud held the vigil, attended by around 30 people.

“Asgari and Marhoni were found guilty of male rape after an unfair trial. LGBTI campaigners inside Iran doubt the rape allegations and believe they were hanged because they had gay sex. International human rights organisations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have often accused the Tehran regime of hanging people on flimsy evidence and on trumped up charges,” said protest coordinator Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

“On 19 July, we stand for life, liberty and love. Mahmoud and Ayaz were only children when they were sentenced to die. I remember the photos of their tears in the police van as they were driven to the gallows. It was a heart-breaking sight. This vigil is our attempt to make sure their state-sponsored murder is not forgotten and to stand in solidarity with LGBTI people in Iran.

“Iran’s penal code makes no distinction between consensual and forced homosexual acts. Both are punishable by execution. Regardless of the youth’s guilt or innocence, the death penalty is a violation of human rights and should be abolished.

“We also remember the many other victims of Tehran’s tyranny: students, political dissidents, women, trade unionists, human rights defenders and religious and ethnic minorities.

“We welcome the nuclear deal with Iran. But what about human rights for the Iranian people?” he queried.

Edwin Sesange, the coordinator of Out and Proud who attended and spoke at the vigil, added: “We support freedom and equality for LGBTI Iranians. They suffer grave persecution. Iran has the death penalty for homosexuality. Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the executed. Whatever the truth about the allegations against Mahmoud and Ayaz, hanging is barbaric. They should not have suffered this cruel death. We urge the abolition of the death penalty in Iran and every country.”

The vigil urged Iran to stopp all executions, particularly of minors, and to stop the arrest and persectution of LGBT people.

It also urged the British Government to stop deporting LGBT asylum seekers back to Iran and to oppose foreign military intervention in the country.

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