Content Warning: Contains descriptions of violence and homophobia.
As reported by the Kurdish human rights organisation Hengaw on September 4, LGBTQ+ activists Zahra Sediqi Hamedani and Elham Chubdar have been sentenced to death in Iran. The charges against them include “spreading corruption on Earth” through the promotion of homosexuality as well as “promoting Christianity”.
The two activists for LGBTQ+ rights were given the death sentence by the Revolutionary Court in Urmia, which is part of the special Islamic court system in Iran. The Urmia Public Prosecutor’s Office first accused Chubdar on January 16 this year of “corruption on Earth” through “promoting homosexuality”, “promoting Christianity” and “communicating with the media opposing the Islamic Republic”.
Instead, Hamedani was arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) while she was attempting to cross the border and seek asylum in Turkey after she became a target for appearing in an interview with BBC Persian to speak about the situation of the LGBTQ+community in Erbil, Iraq. She was accused of “Promoting homosexuality, gambling, fraud, and promoting illicit sexual relations and publishing them on the Internet.”
Since then, the two women have been held in Urmia Central Prison. The organisation Hengaw reported that another woman, Soheila Ashrafi, is also currently detained in the same prison and awaiting a verdict for her case.
2 #LGBTQ activists in Iran
Zahra Sediqi Hamedani, 31, & Elham Chubdar, 24, (no pic available)
Were sentenced to death by the "revolutionary court" system
On the charge of "Corruption on Earth" by promoting homosexuality.https://t.co/x8HtMh9RWa
— Zahir Abbas (@Sheikhzahirabas) September 5, 2022
Same-sex conduct between men and women is criminalised in Iran under the 2013 Islamic penal code. Punishment can go from flogging to the death penalty and Iran is known to have a high rate of convictions of LGBTQ+ people. Earlier this year, two gay men were executed over sodomy charges in the country, after being held in prison for six years.
Iran also has a track record of failing to conduct fair trials, especially against women. Indeed, after they were arrested in January the two activists were denied their right to a lawyer and no actual evidence for the accusations was provided.
Activists from all over the world are calling on the government in Iran to drop the charges and release the two LGBTQ+ activists. An online petition was launched on All Out to demand the release of the two women. You can sign here.
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