Iran is killing LGBT people for being visible

Sareh, who was sentenced to death along with another woman, Elham Choubdar, for “corruption on earth through the promotion of homosexuality.” (Youtube Screenshot)

Iran has sentenced two LGBT people to be executed. Before we opine on that, let’s give you the details as it is reported. According to a report by BBC, “A court in Urmia found Zahra Seddiqi Hamedani, 31, and Elham Choubdar, 24, guilty of “corruption on Earth.” The Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported that they were accused of promoting homosexuality, promoting Christianity and communicating with media opposed to the Islamic Republic. Iran’s judiciary later confirmed the sentences, but said they were connected to human trafficking and not activism.”

The women Zahra Seddiqi Hamedani, 31, known as S and Elham Choubdar, 24, were found guilty of “spreading corruption on Earth”, including through promoting homosexuality, communicating with hostile media and promoting Christianity,” according to Amnesty International.

In basic terms, they are slated for the executioner’s block for being visibly out, loud, and proud of who they were. They are slated to be executed for trying to organize to help other LGBT people. Isn’t that exactly what we started to do in 1969 from the ashes of Stonewall? They are giving their lives for being visible.

That one act — visibility — is what makes Gay Liberation possible. And that is why I sum my life’s work to be visible and why these women are heroes. But they are something more.

They bring to light how far religious zealots and cultural attitudes try to suppress LGBT people to the point that their lives have no value. They do so with outright laws that ban us as human beings and then condemn us to flogging, prison or death. They also do it by honor killings where a family for religious or cultural reasons kills their LGBT relative. A gay Iranian man was killed by his family in an honor killing just last year. And in some countries, activists are targeted for the same reasons. 

Executing LGBT people is primarily done in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Iran and even the Palestinian State, and it’s also done in countries in Africa, such as Uganda. In fact, around 65 countries on this earth still have homosexuality as illegal among their laws. 

And what about the U.S.? Here, that religious oppression is used most against our youth by their own parents. It’s called conversion therapy. Then there’s the issue of LGBT youth that are in the social service system or legal system. There’s also the issue of LGBT youth being denied books that help them understand who they are.

We’ve been building a community now for over 50 years. Part of building community means taking care of those most endangered. So what can we do? There are three things you can do: volunteer, donate, protest.

One last note. You might be thinking that things happening around the world couldn’t possibly happen here. But you would be wrong. There are candidates that are running for office in several states this November who literally have stated that they would consider making homosexuality illegal again. Let’s get political here. Our lives are at stake. The people who want to harm us are all Republicans. Are you registered to vote? Are you ready to vote Democrat? If not, you are harming our community.