The Voice of a Gay Iranian Torture Victim

Tue Sep. 27, 2005 8:27 PM EDT
"The situation of gays in Iran is dreadful. We have no rights at all. They would beat me up and tell me to confess to things I hadn't done, and I would do it. The gays and lesbians in Iran are under unbelievable pressure -- they need help, they need outside intervention. Things are really bad. Really bad! We are constantly harassed in public, walking down the street, going to the store, going home...anywhere and anywhere, everyone, everyone! One of my dear friends, Nima, commited suicide a month ago in Shiraz. He just couldn't take it anymore. I don't know what's going to happen to me. I've run out of money. I don't know what to do. I just hope they don't send me back to Iran. They'll kill me there."
These are the words of Amir, a 22-year-old gay man from Iran who has recently escaped brutal torture and who is now currently seeking asylum in Turkey. Amir, like many gays and lesbians worldwide suffers from the criminalization of homosexuality.

Recent attention was drawn to Iran's suppression of gay when two teenage boys were executed by hanging.

The estimable Doug Ireland has been bringing continuous up-to-date information on the situation, including an exclusive phone interview with Amir as he awaits his fate in Turkey. If Amir is denied asylum and sent back to Iran, he will most certainly be killed.

For more information, read Doug's article in the latest edition of GayCity News as well as his post at his blog.

Here is an excerpt:

Amir, who grew up with his mother, an older brother and two sisters, says "I've known I was gay since I was about 5 or 6 -- I always preferred to play with girls. I had my first sexual experience with a man when I was 13. But nobody in my family knew I was gay." Amir's first arrest for being gay occurred two years ago. "I was at a private gay party, about 25 young people there, all of us close friends. One of the kids, Ahmed Reza -- whose father was a colonel in the intelligence services, and who was known to the police to be gay -- snitched on us, and alerted the authorities this private party was going to happen. Ahmed waited until everyone was there, then called the Office for Promotion of Virtue and Prohibition of Vice, headed in Shiraz by Colonel Safaniya, who a few minutes later raided the party. The door opened, and the cops swarmed in, insulting us -- screaming 'who's the bottom? Who's the top?' and beating us, led by Colonel Javanmardi. When someone tried to stop them beating up the host of the party, they were hit with pepper spray. One of our party was a trans-sexual -- the cops slapped her face so hard they busted her eardrum and she wound up in hospital. Ahmed Reza, the gay snitch, was identifying everyone as the cops beat us up.

"The cops took sheets, ripped them up and blindfolded us, threw us into a van, and took us to a holding cell in Interior Ministry headquarters -- they knew us all by name," Amir recounts. Iranians live in fear of the Interior Ministry, which has a reputation like that of the former Soviet KGB's domestic bureau, and whose prisons strike fear in people's hearts the way the infamous Lubianka once did. Amir says that, "I was the third person to be interrogated. The cops had seized videos taken at the party, in one of which I was reciting a poem. The cops told me to recite it again. 'What poem?' I said. They began beating me in the head and face. When I tried to deny I was gay, they took off my shoes and began beating the soles of my feet with cables, the pain was excruciating.Read the rest...

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