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Op-ed: An LGBT Perspective on the Iran Nuclear Deal

Op-ed: An LGBT Perspective on the Iran Nuclear Deal


An out West Hollywood councilman says Congress needs to reject the deal with Iran, saying the nation's abysmal human rights record speaks volumes.

Most people know me as a fierce advocate for LGBT rights and Latino causes. I have been an activist since the late 1970s, a civil rights attorney for my community since 1987, and have served as mayor/council member in the city of West Hollywood for 14 years. Today, I stand with Israel and urge the U.S. Congress to reject the Iranian nuclear accord.

I was an early supporter of Barack Obama for President in 2007 and continue to love and admire our president. However, I disagree with the administration's policy on Iran.

I spent some time in Israel a few years ago and fell in love with the country and its people. If there is to ever be freedom, justice, and equality for LGBT people and women in the Middle East, it starts with Israel. Israel's protection is paramount to me. And the protection of LGBT people in Israel and in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other moderate Arab states depends on having a strong Israel.

Support of the Iranian nuclear accord irrevocably paves the path toward Iranian nuclear terrorism, placing American allies such as Israel in the line of fire. But that is not all, since support of this fundamentally flawed deal is akin to legitimizing an oppressive regime responsible for unthinkable brutal human rights violations.

To the world, Iran has made its mark as the leading state sponsor of terrorism, exporting its extremist ideology through support of terrorist proxies worldwide. To its Middle East neighbors, Iran's aggressive geopolitical conquests have destabilized the region. To its freedom-yearning citizens, Iran's archaic ideology is directly responsible for the abhorrent persecution of gays, women, ethnic and religious minorities, and individuals who express dissenting views.

Tehran's cavalier attitude is fierce and hardly mere rhetoric, and should be taken seriously.

With minimal time remaining for Congress to vote on the deal, it is vital that our elected representatives consider the prudence of rewarding Tehran up front with an obscene amount of money before the mullahs change their behavior and comply with the long-term contours of the nuclear agreement.

Iran's horrific human rights violations and crimes against humanity cannot be ignored, especially since the terrorist regime's leaders have not demonstrated the slightest interest in behavior change. To the contrary, human rights violations persist all while the Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Khamenei publicly revels in the victory his diplomats achieved at the negotiating table.

Indeed, as a result of Iranian intransigence, the imperialistic regime succeeded in retaining its core nuclear facilities and the ability to continue research in areas that will dramatically accelerate its breakout to the bomb. Furthermore, after the deal expires Iran will emerge as a nuclear threshold state with complete international legitimacy, bolstered by an estimated $150 billion as a result of sanctions relief and the removal of a once-strategically protective arms embargo.

Predicated on Iran's compliance, the deal is essentially hopeless given the regime's track record of deceit. Even worse, the deal does not require Iran to submit to anytime or anywhere inspections. Without full transparency, and by providing Iran with up to 24 days advance warning before inspections commence, there are no assurances that Iran's nuclear secrets will be uncovered.

Lending legitimacy to the Iranian nuclear program only emboldens its burgeoning force, and does absolutely nothing to help the four Americans currently held under inhumane conditions without due process in Iranian prisons.

Iran's human rights violations are unacceptable, with United Nations reports over the last several years describing executions of gay men as a direct punishment for their sexual orientation, acid attacks against women, and imprisonment and corporal punishment against individuals who practice dissenting faiths.

The colossal gap between Iranian and American values is painful. During this critical time, Congress should look to its allies in the Middle East, primarily Israel, for support. America and Israel not only share a common enemy, Iran, but we also share common core values.

Iran's mistreatment of its own citizens must not be overlooked by Congress. If Iran cannot be trusted to treat its own people with dignity, then how can we expect Iran to honor the Iranian nuclear accord and comply with its conditions? The prevention of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons should not require America to surrender its values.

Iran has already established itself as a leader with some of the world's harshest human rights violations. Just imagine what the ayatollahs would do with unleashed nuclear power. I have had to deal with America's "religious ayatollahs" here at home. For the most part, we have protected our LGBT people from harm since our American zealots and Pharisees were relegated to the political sidelines as extremists. I cannot imagine the harm that would happen to all my friends in the Middle East with a nuclear-armed Iran.

JOHN DURAN is an attorney who has also served as a West Hollywood City Council member for 14 years. Follow him on Twitter @JohnDuran.

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