Gays, Jews Protest Ahmadinejad Visit in Rio

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com June 18 2012 5:58 PM ET

Gay and Jewish activists protested the arrival of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Sunday.

Hundreds turned out for a demonstration at Ipanema Beach carrying banners that read, "Rio Does Not Welcome Mahmoud Ahmadinejad" and "Iranians We Love You," according to the Agence France-Presse. Claudio Nascimento and Joao Silva, the first same-sex couple to be recognized by the Rio government, attended the rally as well as other gay people protesting Ahmadinejad's arrival for the U.N. Rio+20 conference on sustainable development.

"The Iranian president's visit is an opportunity to criticize his hateful speech denying the Holocaust as well as the persecution of homosexuals and Bahais," Michel Gherman, head of the Hillel Jewish human rights movement said in the article.

The Iranian president shocking statements in 2007 during a trip to New York, where he said there were no gay people in his home country. Iranian authorities are known to issue the death penalty to those caught engaging or abetting in homosexuality, which is illegal in Iran.