Iran brutally executes gay man over ‘sodomy’ charges

A woman shouting with her first in the air, a person next to her holds a placard that reads 'stop execution in Iran'

A gay man has been executed in Iran under a “sodomy” charge, according to human rights groups, in the latest example of anti-LGBTQ+ brutality in the Middle Eastern nation.

The Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) reported that 10 inmates were allegedly executed in Rajai Shahr Prison, in the northern city of Karaj, on 29 June.

Among them was Iman Safari-rad, whom the news agency and activists claim was likely sentenced to death for being gay.

The Jerusalem Post reported that HRANA had verified Safari-rad’s identity. While Kazem Moussavi, a human rights activist from Iran exiled to Germany, claimed on Twitter that Safari-rad was killed in the capital of the Alborz Province for “sodomy”.

He was killed alongside Mehdi Khalgoldi, who faced charges of “rape” – a charge often used as a pretext by officials to freely execute queer folk, a US Department of State report found.

Iranian officials have yet to confirm the deaths.

LGBTQ+ people in Iran face unrelenting violence for simply existing. Same-sex sexual activity is strictly prohibited under the republic’s penal code, carrying a maximum penalty of death.

Peter Tatchell, a British LGBTQ+ campaigner, told The Jerusalem Post: “Yet again another man has been executed on a charge of sodomy, which he may or may not have committed, with or without consent.

“What is certain is that this man almost certainly did not receive a fair trial under the notoriously biased Iranian judicial system. Defendants are routinely denied access to lawyers and defence witnesses.”

Tatchell described how Iran’s judicial system can see gay people tried in rushed hearings, often only having a lawyer minutes before the trial starts. No substantial evidence is often even needed by the court to hand down a sentence.

“The world must make relations with Iran contingent on Tehran’s observance of international human rights law, including a prohibition on the use of the death penalty in all circumstances and respect for the human rights of LGBTs, women, non-believers and religious and ethnic minorities,” Tatchell added.

Safari-rad’s alleged execution is just the latest in a horrifying legacy of violence toward LGBTQ+ Iranians.

For decades, those accused and convicted of same-sex activities have been beheadedstoned to death, thrown off cliffs and amputated. A 17-year-old – charged with “rape” – was hung for having sex with a teenage boy in 2016.

Penal Code 2013, rooted in Shariah law, also punishes queer men who place a male sex organ between the thighs or buttocks of another man with 100 lashes. If the active party is non-Muslim and the passive Muslim, the death penalty is enforced instead.

A man simply kissing another man will see them suffer between 31 to 74 lashes.

LGBTQ+ activist groups have exposed how, beneath state censors that all but erase queer people, security forces routinely raid LGBTQ+ spaces and arrest attendees en masse. In detainment, they are harassed into revealing the names of other LGBTQ+ people they know.

In January, human rights groups recoiled in horror as it emerged two men were executed on “sodomy” charges.

Mehrdad Karimpou and Farid Mohammadi were killed in the Maragheh prison in northwestern Iran, HRANA reported. Both had spent six years on death row on charges of “sodomy by force”.