British-Iranian academic imprisoned for eight years for ‘promoting homosexuality’

British-Iranian anthropologist Kameel Ahmady, who was charged with "promoting homosexuality" in Iran

British-Iranian anthropologist Kameel Ahmady has been sentenced to eight years in prison for “promoting homosexuality” and conducting “subversive” work in Iran.

Ahmady grew up in Iran, before travelling to the UK as a student, and as an anthropologist has studied child marriage, the LGBT+ community and female genital mutilation in Iran, including a book titled Forbidden Tale, a comprehensive research report on LGB people in Iran.

The anthropologist explains on his website that his aim in his research is to “provide solutions to these situations, with an emphasis on cultural contexts that address taboo and often obscured issues”.

He was initially detained in August 2019, and in October of the same year Iran officially acknowledged his arrest, according to the Associated Press. He was released on bail in November 2019.

But Ahmady has now been sentenced by Iran’s Revolutionary Court on charges of cooperating with European embassies for the “promotion of homosexuality”, as well as visiting Israel as a reporter for the BBC, communicating with “foreign and hostile media”, infiltration with the aim to change the law in Iran, and sending false reports on human rights to the UN.

As well as eight years in prison, the academic is also facing a fine of more than £500,000.

Kameel Ahmady shared on Facebook: “Contrary to all legal analysis and hope for fair judgment, I was sentenced to eight years.

“During the last year, [I have experienced] 100 days of detention and extrajudicial interrogation without access to a lawyer, and this sentence was issued by judge Salavati after two non-expert court hearings in a process full of legal flaws.”

He added: “Now, with all that remains in my strength, I will appeal this verdict and hope for a fair trial on appeal process.”

Travel to Israel is illegal in Iran, and carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, and homosexuality is punishable by death.

Additionally, under Article 639 of the Islamic Penal Code, anyone who encourages or incites people to moral corruption or depravity is sentenced to one to ten years in prison.

Earlier this year, the former aide for women’s and family affairs in Iran was charged with “spreading moral corruption” in the form of a cartoon depicting loving LGBT+ families.

Her crimes included “propaganda against the regime”, “encouraging corruption and prostitution” and “providing classified information and documents to disrupt national security”.

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