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Iran hangs
another man on sodomy charge

Iran hangs
another man on sodomy charge

Another gay Iranian man has been hanged in public, this time Tuesday in the western city of Kermanshah on the charge of sodomy, the nonprofit news service Iran Focus reported.

Shahab Darvishi was charged with organizing a "corruption ring," assault, and "lavat," or sodomy, Iran Focus reported, quoting Iran's official news agency.

Darvishi was hanged in the evening in Kermanshah's Freedom Square in front of hundreds of people, the report said.

"Iran tries to portray these people as dangerous criminals," said Hossein Alizadeh, communications coordinator of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission in New York. "Though sodomy itself is a capital crime, they always say there were other things that were wrong. In this case, they accused him of running a prostitution ring. Unfortunately, the lack of due process makes it practically impossible to investigate what really happened."

Under Iran's Islamic penal code, gay sex even between consenting adults is punishable by death. Several public hangings of reputed gay men have been reported in the last two years, prompting the international gay rights group to call for a United Nations investigation.

When Iran in July 2005 hanged two teenagers accused of being gay, human rights activists around the world took note. In that case, the youths had been detained for 14 months and lashed 228 times. Several European nations began accepting homosexuality as cause for granting asylum to Iranian refugees, most recently the Netherlands, after a long partisan struggle, in October of this year.

Significantly, Alizadeh said, Iran issued its report of the latest execution only in Persian. "They wanted to send a lesson to the people in the country," he said. "They didn't want to call international attention to it."

Alizadeh said that despite official harassment and against long odds, gay Iranians have a Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization and an Internet presence, based in Canada, at www.pglo.net. The group operates largely in secret; last month, Alizadeh said, the person in charge of health issues had his identity revealed and had to flee the country.

Iranian officials condemn homosexuality abroad as well. A 2005 Iranian state radio commentary criticized same-sex marriages in Western countries. Ayatollah Ebrahim Amini, an influential cleric, said in a 2002 sermon in Qom that gay and lesbian marriages reflect a weakness of Western culture, and Ayatollah Ali Meshkini in a 2000 sermon in Qom criticized the German Green Party for being pro-gay, Iran Focus reported. (Barbara Wilcox, The Advocate)

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