Wednesday, July 19th marks the one year anniversary of the executions of teenagers Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni in Iran (aged 15 and 16-years-old, respectively, at the time of their arrests), apparently for the "crime" of having gay sex. Shortly after their executions, pictures of their hangings drew protests around the world.
To memorialize Asgari and Marhoni and protest against future executions and other vicious repressions against Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans people, we are joining over 20 other cities around the world in an international day of protest this next Wednesday.
While the official Iranian media attempted to justify the executions by accusing Asgari and Marhoni of rape, the least that can be said is that there is no way that a Lesbian, Gay, Bi or trans person could receive a fair trial in Iran. As international gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said last year, "According to Iranian human rights campaigners, over 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979. Altogether, an estimated 100,000 Iranians have been put to death over the last 26 years of clerical rule." The country's largest LGBT rights organization, Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization (http://www.pglo.net/), is among those joining in the call for protests.
Even as we oppose these executions, it must be clear that we ALSO oppose threatened military attacks on Iran by the United States or a surrogate such as Israel.
Such attacks would only make matters worse for Iranian gays and non-gays alike. Bombing gay and non-gay people in Iran is the antithesis of helping them. It would allow the clerical regime to increase repression, shoring up internal political support by highlighting the long-standing U.S. opposition to Iranian sovereignty, epitomized by the U.S.-sponsored 1953 coup d'etat which overthrew Iran's first democratically elected government and put a vicious, decades-long dictatorship in its place. Regime change must come from within - by and for the Iranian people themselves.
And lest anyone here in the U.S. get too smug, pretending that such anti-gay atrocities wouldn't be tolerated by regimes friendly to the West, think again. Just across the Gulf in Saudi Arabia, the regime beheads suspected gays, and police state round-ups of up to 100+ LGBT people at a time are increasingly common. And several weeks ago in the U.S. client state of Iraq, the country's leading Shi'ite cleric, a man eagerly courted by the Bush administration, issued a fatwa calling for the executions of all gay people. Some Iraqi gays have already been killed as a result.
U.S.-allied countries with as diverse religious / political traditions as Poland, Nigeria, Cameroon and Russia have used police-state methods to ban political gatherings of gay people. Bush's silence on this repression is shameful, as is his hypocritical "opposition" to human rights abuses in countries to which the United States is opposed.
Please attend this solidarity event against executions and repression of gay people in ALL countries: