Gay men and lesbians live in frightening closets in this ancient land once known as Persia.
Gay men and lesbians live in frightening closets in this
ancient land once known as Persia. A theocracy, ever since
fundamentalist religionists seized government control following a
1979 uprising against the autocratic Shah, primitive
"religious" death penalties for same-sex love are now
used to strike terror into Iran's fragmented gay communities.
Those charged with love-making are given a choice of four
deathstyles: being hanged, stoned, halved by a sword, or dropped
from the highest perch.
During the past decade, however, Iranian men and women,
primarily exiles, have bravely confronted the rampant homophobia
loosed in their country, publishing an impressive magazine, Homan,
and courageously establishing worldwide outposts of their
organization, also called Homan. Hit-squads sanctioned by
the Iranian government operate brashly in locales outside the
nation, murdering nationals who oppose the current
"religious" regime. The bravery, therefore, of Iranians
who publish and agitate against the anti-gay policies of the
regime cannot be underestimated.
A perusal of the anti-gay penal code passed by the
fundamentalist Iranian parliament in 1982 gives evidence of the
insanity that motivates homophobic nit-pickers. "One may
become aware of the complexities and intricacies of Iranian sex
laws and appreciate the extraordinary flatulence of their
creators," writes one critic.
According to Article 152, if two men not related by blood are
discovered naked under one cover without good reason, both will
be punished at a judge's discretion. Gay teens (Article 144) are
also punished at a judge's discretion. Rubbing one's penis
between the thighs without penetration (tafheed) shall be
punished by 100 lashes for each offender. This act, known to the
English- speaking world as "frottage" is punishable by
death if the "offender" is a non-Moslem.
If frottage is thrice repeated and penalty-lashes have failed
to stop such repetitions, upon the fourth "offense"
both men will be put to death.
Even heterosexually-inclined Iranians must now be exceedingly
careful. Should they introduce two men who are likely to be found
nude under the covers or to rub their penises between thighs or
buttocks, they too are liable for 70 lashes (if they are men) or
75 lashes (if they are women.)
According to Article 156, a person who repents and confesses
his gay behavior prior to his identification by four witnesses,
may be pardoned. Even kissing "with lust" (Article 155)
is forbidden. This bizarre law works to re-route old Persian
male-bonding customs, including common kissing and holding hands
in public. Who can determine what constitutes lust? Some gay
liberationists joke about the "boner police."
In fact, morality police do thrive in modern Iran, seeking out
not only gays and lesbians, but opposite sex couples too, those
who picnic together without being related by blood.