Flaws in Blade Report of Executions in Iran
Gays are executed, Iranian exiles confirm
July 28, 2005
By OutRage! News Service
“News reports in the US Washington Blade and New
York Blade newspapers on the execution of two teens in Iran are flawed,”
according to the British LGBT human rights group OutRage!, which helped break
the story to the international media and human rights groups.
story by Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg, ‘Mixed reports on Iran teen
hangings’, dated 28 July, contains a number of errors,” said Peter
Tatchell of OutRage! “OutRage!’s sources for our reportage of this story
include clandestine gay and lesbian activists inside Iran, members of the
democratic and left Iranian opposition, and the websites of pro-government
news agencies in Iran.
“Much of the Blade article disputes claims that the two
teenagers were hanged because they had gay sex. Bizarrely, it gives greater
prominence and credibility to the allegations of rape made by news agencies
linked to the dictatorial, homophobic Iranian government. “Why should we
believe the claims of a judicial and political system that is one of the most
barbaric in the world and which has a proven record of lying to cover up its
crimes against humanity?
“The Blade story does, however, conclude with a comment
from a gay Iranian exile. He is in a better position than most people to know
how the Iranian regime operates and to judge the credibility of its claims. He
questions the rapist allegation; suggesting the two youths probably were
hanged for consensual sex but the government said it was rape to squash public
outrage. This exile also confirms that confessions are often extracted under
torture. This casts serious doubt on the rape claims. Why was this gay Iranian
viewpoint not given greater prominence in the Blade story?
“We work with many exiled gay Iranians in London. They
confirm that smears and torture against gay people are routine in Iran.
Whenever the regime wants to deflect criticism it trumps up charges of
alcoholism, adultery, rape, homosexuality and drug abuse.
interviewed in the back of a police van by a pro-government journalist from
the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA), shortly before their execution, the
youths spoke candidly about having sex with boys, protesting that they did not
know homosexuality is a capital crime. This suggests they believed they were
being hanged for same-sex relations, not rape. The ISNA report makes no
mention of rape or of a 13 year old boy. It states they were hung for
“Even so, OutRage! has never said the rape allegations
are untrue; only that we think they are unlikely and that we treat them with
the skepticism they deserve. We acknowledge there are conflicting reports. It
is difficult to be certain about the truth. But on balance we believe the
evidence points to the youths being hanged for same-sex relations, rather than
“The Blade says the claims of rape are confirmed by the
13 year old boy’s father. That is not proof. It is not surprising that the
father has said his 13 year old son was raped; otherwise his son would have
been hanged as well and the family would become social outcasts for having a
gay child. OutRage! is aware of several cases in the region where a false
claim of rape has been used by parents to spare a family the shame of having a
gay son and to save him from imprisonment and/or execution.
“We must also be open to the possibility that the 13
year old was a willing participant but that Iranian law (like the laws of many
western nations) deems that no person aged 13 is capable of sexual consent. In
these circumstances, consensual sexual contact with a 13 year old is
automatically branded statutory rape.
“It is curious that the Iranian authorities say the 13
year old was raped. Does the Iranian legal system include the offence of rape
of a male? Does it acknowledge that male rape exists and is possible? If not,
how can the youths have been hanged for the crime of rape? “Elizabeth
Weill-Greeneberg’s report says that the older youth may have been 19, and
therefore not a minor when he committed the alleged crime. Even the
state-sponsored Iranian media said he was 18. We would like to see any
reliable news source that has reported him as being 19 years old.
“The Blade report claims the allegations the boys were
executed for being gay originated with the National Council of Resistance of
Iran (NCRI). This is untrue. The NCRI did not originate the story and it did
not report the reason for their execution. “The Blade also falsely claims
that Iran Focus is the English language website of the NCRI. Not true.
“The Blade article goes on to smear the NCRI, repeating
the US State Department’s smear that it is a “terrorist organisation”.
While we do not share the politics of the NCRI, it has played a heroic role in
resisting the clerical fascist regime in Iran and campaigning for democracy
and human rights. The NCRI is no more a terrorist organisation than the
African National Congress in South Africa or the anti-Nazi resistance in
occupied Europe during World War Two. “While there have been allegations of
human rights abuses by the NCRI, these pale into insignificance by comparison
to the butchery of the Iranian regime.
“The NCRI works with a broad coalition of European
parliamentarians, jurists, lawyers and human rights advocates. It would not
enjoy this supportive relationship if it were a terrorist organisation. NCRI
delegations have recently met with European and Australian parliamentary
representatives. “We find it shocking that brave people who are fighting for
freedom and against tyranny are being vilified and smeared.
“Contrary to what the Blade says, the report the teens
were hanged for being gay originated with the pro-government Iranian Student
News Agency (ISNA) – not the NCRI. It stated categorically that they were
executed for sodomy. It made no mention of rape or a 13 year old boy.
“Paula Ettelbrick of the International Gay and Lesbian
Human Rights Commission is reported by the Blade as having condemned OutRage!
for using racially charged language to denounce the executions.
“If she said this, it is a complete fabrication. We
have never attacked anyone’s race or ethnicity.
“Ms Ettelbrick apparently objects to our description of
the Iranian regime in the following terms: ‘This is just the latest
barbarity by the Islamo-fascists in Iran.’”
“We make no apology for denouncing the Iranian
dictatorship in these terms. Its fascist-style tyranny is based on a
fundamentalist version of Islam. The phrase ‘Islamo-fascist’ is used by
progressive Muslims to denounce the fundamentalists and by democratic and left
opponents of the Iranian regime. We agree, and support their struggle.
“We have great respect and admiration for the Blade
newspapers, but we feel their reports on this issue need to be challenged and
corrected,” concluded Mr Tatchell.
The Washington Blade is notorious for bad
reporting, wild inaccuracies, fabrication of quotes, and gross editorializing
within news stories. The Blade story would not have been included on
this website except for the press release by Outrage!. -Bob Summersgill
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