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More and More Gays Flee Iran


Since the crackdown after contested elections in June, increasing numbers of gay people have fled Iran, most heading to Turkey, where they often live in challenging refugee conditions until the United Nations can settle them in Western countries.

The Washington Post reports on the circumstances of young men like Hassan, who are assigned to smaller metropolises where, compared to more cosmopolitan Istanbul, antigay attitudes among Muslims run comparable to those in the U.S. Bible Belt.

"In Turkey, where the party that won the national elections in 2002 has sought to foster better ties with Tehran... the movements of the refugees are strictly limited," reports the Post. "They can engage in no political activity, cannot work and must check in at police stations at least twice a week.

"Human rights groups say the number of gays taking flight has jumped in recent months as some came out of the shadows for a fleeting moment around the time of the tainted elections last June. They attempted to join in the anti-government campaigns that have sparked a brutal crackdown against dissidents by the Iranian government. It marked the first time, gay activists say, that a reviled underclass in Iran poked its face to the surface. It stayed there just long enough to get slapped."

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Julie Bolcer