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LGBT rights in Iran


In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like you do in your country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who has told you that we have.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Columbia University, 2007.

In Iran, same-sex relations are punishable by death. The Iranian LGBT community between social marginalisation and State persecution.

In Iran, the dichotomous distinction between genders is clear-cut. Men and women have to conform to models of masculinity and femininity. Any deviance is symptomatic of a pathological perversion.



The woman in this picture was called Atrian. After years of abuse she left Iran for Turkey. She applied for asylum and was finally resettled in Canada. She committed suicide in her Toronto home. It was 2008 and she was 28.


My article on the Iranian LGBT community is available here.


As for other countries where freedom of expression is severely curtailed, the Iranian diaspora take upon themselves the duty of expressing what cannot be voiced in their home country. Farid Haerinejad’s documentary or Maryam Kershavarz’s film show a country that the Council of the Guardians would rather ignore and purify. Iranian socio-cultural underground scene is far more lively and complex than we are used to think, as Marjane Satrapi showed in Persepolis.

More often than not, I struggle to reconciliate the souls of Iran. The religiously conservative one clashes with the culturally bubbly one. How can we give up on Iran when there’s so much its people can offer?
That goes for many other countries afflicted by an oppressive and sick regime, but blessed with a rich society.


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