Ahmadinejad's Comments on Homosexuality Censored in Iran

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's official Web site and Iran's state news agency have cut out any reference to gays -- including his comment that there are none in Iran -- in their Farsi-language transcripts of his controversial appearance this week at Columbia University.

BY admin

September 27 2007 12:00 AM ET

President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad's official Web site and Iran's state news
agency have cut out any reference to gays -- including his
comment that there are none in Iran -- in their
Farsi-language transcripts of his controversial
appearance this week at Columbia University.

The decision not
to include references to homosexuality in the Farsi
transcripts reflects the sensitivity of the taboo issue in
the conservative country.

In the
question-and-answer portion of Ahmadinejad's appearance
Monday at the New York university, the moderator asked
the hard-line leader why Iran denies women human
rights and executes people who are homosexual.

Ahmadinejad first
responded by saying Iranian people are free and capital
punishment is reserved for people who violate the rights of
others, such as drug traffickers.

But then the
moderator interrupted, ''Mr. President, the question isn't
about criminals and drug smugglers. The question was about
sexual preference and women.''

Ahmadinejad
responded, ''In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your
country. We don't have that in our country. In Iran, we do
not have this phenomenon. I don't know who's told you
that we have it.''

On the
Farsi-language versions of the president's official Web site
and that of the country's official news agency,
IRNA, these comments are cut out or slightly revised
to delete references to homosexuality.

But not all media
deleted the homosexual comments. On Tuesday state-run
television aired a videotaped recording of the speech and
left in the homosexual comments. Monday's speech was
not carried live on television in Iran.

The
English-language version of IRNA's Web site also
published the complete transcript. Some newspapers,
including the independent Etemad Melli, or
National Confidence, also ran the comments
in Wednesday's editions.

Under Iranian
law, homosexuality is prohibited and in some circumstances
punishable by death.

International
human rights groups condemned the 2005 hangings in
northeastern Iran of a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old on
charges of involvement in homosexual acts. On Tuesday,
Amnesty International called Ahmadinejad's comments
''absurd'' and said Iranians have been arrested and
harassed for allegedly committing homosexual acts.

The International
Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission on Wednesday
criticized the decision not to include all of Ahmadinejad's
comments on the Farsi-language state-run Web sites.

The
''whitewashing of his comments from the eyes and ears of
most Iranian citizens speaks to something more
troubling.... Perhaps he knows he could not credibly
get away with such a denial among his own people,'' said
Paula Ettelbrick, executive director of the New
Yorkā€“based commission. (AP)

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