Top Iranian aide apologises for ‘homosexual propaganda’ after sharing cartoon of loving lesbian and gay parents

Iranian aide

The former aide for women’s and family affairs in Iran has been forced to apologise for sharing an innocent cartoon that was branded as “homosexual propaganda”.

On May 15 Shahindokht Molaverdi shared a poster to mark the International Day of Families on her Telegram account. Produced by the UN, the simple illustration depicted several families, including two same-sex couples with children.

Beneath it the caption read: “The structure of family has changed in the past few decades, but the United Nations still considers it as the main division of society”, adding that it is important to “support vulnerable families at times of crisis.”

The sentiment sparked outrage in the strictly conservative Muslim nation, which punishes homosexuality with the death penalty.

Pro-Iranian regime social users took to Twitter to slam Molaverdi, accusing her of promoting homosexuality by spreading “homosexual propaganda” on an official channel.

Conservative lawmaker Alireza Zakani demanded that President Hassan Rouhani condemn “this collapse of morality or lack of a minimum understanding of the notion of the family”.

And the hardline Iranian news outlet Mashreq News questioned the legality of Molaverdi’s post, pointing out that under the Islamic Penal Code any action that contributes to the spread of homosexuality is considered the same as encouragement to prostitution, and is punishable by up to ten years in prison.

The backlash was so strong that Molaverdi removed the controversial image and was forced to issued an apology for “carelessly republishing a post.” It’s not clear whether she was aware she was sharing an LGBT-inclusive poster.

The level of outrage against a simple cartoon reflects Iran’s shocking record on LGBT+ rights. Testimony from LGBT+ Iranians reveals that sexual minorities are “hounded on all sides” by a state whose laws are stacked against them.

Authorities periodically crackdown on LGBT+ people in the country, and last year Iran’s foreign minister proudly defended the execution of homosexuals on the basis of “moral principles”.