Last edited: April 19, 2007

A Gay Iranian Activist Needs Your Help

April 17, 2007

Dear Friends,

This is an urgent appeal on behalf of a courageous Iranian gay activist who was deported from Turkey back to Iran two weeks ago.

For security reasons, we will call this activist Babak. He is 27-years-old, and has been working as a translator/writer for Cheraq, the Iranian Queer Organization' s (IRQO) on-line monthly magazine for the past year. He is a gay writer and blogger who actively pursued queer rights through his insightful articles.

After receiving threats from under-cover Iranian police, Babak fled Iran and went to Turkey , where he was arrested by police for lack of documents. Arsham Parsi, Executive Director of the IRQO, who was in Turkey presenting a report on queer Iranian asylum seekers, contacted the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) and informed them of Babak's case. The UNHCR office called theTurkish police, and requested that Babak be released and allowed to file a claim for refugee status. Unfortunately, he was instead deported to Iran , where he was jailed, beaten and tortured. After being released on bail, Babak was forced into hiding. He presently has contact with only one person and has no access to internet or phone services. It is critical that he be smuggled out of Iran before his trial.

Babak was born in Iran and sent to Bahrain as a child labourer. He returned to Iran a young man with a cause. Fluent in both Arabic and Farsi, he is a precious resource. He translated and wrote tirelessly for the LGBTQ community in Arabic and Farsi newspapers. His research in Persian and Arab classic literature yielded strong evidence of gay men's long history in both nations. This research endows gay Iranian men with a positive, legitimate identity, and contradicts the government's claim that homosexuality is a disease imported from the West to attack Persian social values.

The LGBTQ family is a global family. Our mandate is to help out members of this family who are in desperate need particularly individual activists like Babak and Mani, who have been persecuted for the way they love and for the crime of defending the rights of our brothers and sisters. We at the IRQO have scarcely any financial resources, as we do not charge membership dues. We have sent Babak a few paltry dollars, but our treasury is bare. Please consider making an urgently needed donation to the IRQO to help Babak flee persecution. Your donation will also help support other queer Iranian refugees, who are residing in Turkey until they are granted official refugee status by the UNHCR and find asylum in a gay-friendly country.

Even $10 or $20 would be enormously helpful. You can help them now by clicking on the "Donate" button on our website at http://www.irqo. net and using your credit card via the secure PayPal system. Or, you can mail a cheque, made payable to Arsham Parsi and send it to:

"Gay Refugees"
Arsham Parsi
41 Waddington Cr.
Toronto, Ontario
M2J 2Z9

Thank you for supporting Iran 's persecuted gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people. Financial assistance is urgently needed to get Babak safely out of hiding and into Turkey . Please show your support by donating.

IRanian Queer Organization IRQO
Formerly Persian Gay & Lesbian Organization PGLO
info [at] irqo [dot] net