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Chicago Protest Against the Executions of Gays in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

July 19, 2006 – Chicago joined more than two dozen cities around the world today in protesting against the executions of gays in Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Chicago’s protest will took place in front of Millennium Park on Michigan Avenue.

On July 19, 2005 the government of Iran executed 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.

Gay teenager led to the gallows in Mashhad, Iran, July 19, 2005, and then the executions.

Besides Iran, public executions of gay people have regularly taken place in U.S.-allied Saudi Arabia, and a leading Iraqi Shi’ite cleric closely allied with the U.S. recently issued a fatwa calling for the killing of all gays.

Despite the barbarity of the clerical regime in Iran, we will not allow our protests to be used as a pretext for war. “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,” said GLN's Bob Schwartz. “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.”

Besides Chicago, protests also took place in Amsterdam, Berlin, Bogota, Brussels, Dublin, Fort Lauderdale, Frankfurt, Glouster, The Hague , London, Marseille, Mexico City, Milan, Moscow , New York, Provincetown, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Sioux City, Stockholm, Toronto, Vienna, Warsaw, and Washington, DC.

Towards the end of the protest, we confronted anti-gay bigots who were harassing people going to a concert being held in conjunction with the Gay Games.

On July 19th, the Persian Lesbian and Gay Organization, Iran's largest LGBT group, issued the following statement of thanks to demonstrators around the world:


July 19, 2005

Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization

Homosexual Ladies and Gentlemen, transsexuals and transgender, the human right activists and peace lovers along with people who love democracy and equality, we have been informed of a creative protest of July 19th about the discrimination against homosexuals and execution of teenagers with homosexual interests.

With this letter and on behalf of the society of Iranian Homosexuals we declare our support for your act of protest on July 19 (28 of Tir) and wish you success.

Our dear Worldly Friends, 27 years passed form the Islamic revolution in Iran. It is 27 years now that the execution of homosexuals in Iran has been legal. It is 27 years now that women in Iran have been considered secondary citizens. It is 27 years now that the basic rights of students, workers, ethnic and religious minorities in Iran have been denied from them. It is 27 years now that in Iran oppositions and thinkers has been oppressed. For 27 years now the storm of censor has been affecting thinkers and intellectuals and our writers and journalists have been arrested, jailed or lost their right to publish their thoughts and ideas. Because of their ideas millions of Iranians left Iran and emigrate from their homeland. The Islamic Republic has isolated Iran and insulted our people’s intelligence, pride and honor. They have driven our country toward international crises, sanctions and war. Despite all this it has been 27 years that the struggle for peace, freedom, human rights and equality continues. It has been 27 years that we have tried to form various social and political parties and different organizations in order to recognize the rights of minority and stand against execution of children and homosexuals.

It has been obvious that Iranian government does not recognize homosexuals’ rights in Iran. They publicly declare that there are no legal limits for transsexuals and legally they can have a transgender surgery (which is very expensive). They use this as an excuse to deny existence of homosexuals and believe that every one should be a heterosexual man or woman. According to this belief every one that has a “problem” should have an operation and “transform” her/himself. In other words the government does not recognize the sexual diversity.

Let along that even for transsexuals no social prospect is provided after the operation and many of them have to fall into prostitution in order to make a living. Denial of homosexuals in the country, their oppression and complete ignorance of their rights has caused many homosexuals to live in the worst psychological and social condition which results in frequent suicides, depression and seeking asylum to other countries.

Today’s world is more like a village and unlike in the past, the governments cannot hide the oppression and refusal of the civil rights. When people’s battle to achieve democracy and freedom faces government’s oppression and resistance, they have the right to reach out to the rest of the world and reveal their government’s wrongdoings.

We, a group of homosexuals inside Iran, are glad and welcome the fact that the lack of democracy and human rights especially in treating homosexuals has come to your attention. Using this letter we express our appreciation and admiration for the united efforts of all the organizations, which support human rights and rights of the homosexuals around the world, in opposing the execution and the increase of pressure on sexual minorities in Iran. Together with you all we also ask the Iranian regime to put a stop to all executions, especially juvenile executions, change the regulations designed to punish homosexuals, guarantee equal rights for the citizens, stop censorship and accept rights of different groups and NGOs to create independent organizations.

Together with you all we also express our opposition to any military offensive against our motherland and believe that any such action will turn Iran into another Balkan will destroy the current dynamic movement for human rights and democracy in Iran.

To our friends all over the world once more we send our support and appreciation for your protest on July 19th and we believe that freedom and democracy in Iran is achievable throughout efforts and struggles of the Iranian public and actions of different social groups. The Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization attempts to join its efforts with other social movements of the country in order to create a strong social right movement. We need your support and the support of all other groups and countries and we highly value all international supports.

We are honored by your attention to the human rights situation and the issues around ignorance of homosexuals by Iranian government. We will try our best to publish your message widely and we will join you by all means on July 19th even if it is only a symbolic act of lighting a candle next to our window. The hope for the better world will be always in our hearts.

We hope for the day that we meet face to face in the first Gay Pride Festival in free and democratic Iran.


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