Activists Condemn Execution of Gay Teens
News Service, July 26, 2005
ANKARA—Human rights groups the
world over have strongly condemned the recent execution of two gay teenagers
in northeastern Iran.
“It’s entirely unacceptable that people are actually
killed because of their sexuality,” Kursad Kahramananoglu, head of the
International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), the oldest and only
membership-based lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organisation in
the world, maintained from Istanbul.
While exact details of the case remained unclear, he
vowed if confirmed, ILGA would pursue the matter to the highest level,
including the United Nations, noting a rise in homophobia in the world today.
Kahramananoglu was not alone in his condemnation.
“Killing teenagers for what they do together is absolutely abhorrent,”
David Allison, spokesman for the London-based LGBT advocacy group Outrage!
said. He added that given that Iran was such an old civilisation, it was
appalling that they should descend to such barbaric levels—especially
against young people.
“To execute people simply because they are gay or have
had gay sex just isn’t acceptable in the 21st century,” he exclaimed.
Their comments follow the public hangings of Mahmoud
Asgari, 16, and Ayaz Marhoni, 18, on July19 in Mashad, provincial capital of
Iran’s northeastern Khorasan province, on charges of homosexuality.
Asgari had been accused of raping a 13-year-old boy,
though Outrage! believed those allegations were trumped up to undermine public
sympathy for the two youths, both of whom maintain they were unaware
homosexual acts were punishable by death, an AP news report said on Sunday.
“The judiciary has trampled its own laws,” Asgari’s
lawyer, Rohollah Razez Zadeh, was quoted as saying, explaining that Iranian
courts were supposed to commute death sentences handed to children to five
years in jail, but the country’s Supreme Court allowed the hangings to
Meanwhile on Saturday, Iran’s Nobel Peace laureate
Shirin Ebadi condemned the executions, reaffirming her determination to ban
the execution of minors.
“My calls for a law banning execution of under-18s have
fallen on deaf ears so far but I will not give up the fight,” the AP quoted
her as saying, calling the executions a violation of Iran’s obligations
under the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Prior to the boys’ executions, the teenagers were held
in prison for 14 months and severely beaten with 228 lashes. The length of
their detention suggests that they committed the so-called offences more than
a year earlier, when they were possibly around the age of 16, a statement by
Citing Iranian human rights campaigners, Outrage claims
over 4,000 lesbians and gay men have been executed since the Iranian
revolution of 1979. In total, an estimated 100,000 Iranians have been put to
death over the last 26 years of clerical rule, including women who had sex
outside of marriage and political opponents of the Islamist government.
According to ILGA, Iran is one of at least seven
countries today which still retain capital punishment for homosexuality.
Others include Mauritania, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and
Yemen. The situation with regard to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is unclear.
In the wake of the hangings, Amnesty International (AI)
on Friday called on Tehran to put a final stop to state executions, explaining
as a state party to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights
(ICCPR) and the CRC, Iran had undertaken not to execute anyone for an offence
committed when they were under the age of 18.
For the past four years, the Iranian authorities have
been considering legislation that would prohibit the use of the death penalty
for offences committed by persons under the age of 18. Under Article 1210(1)
of Iran’s Civil Code, the ages of 15 lunar years for boys and nine lunar
years for girls are set out as the age of criminal responsibility, an AI
In January 2005, following its consideration of Iran’s
second periodic report on its implementation of the provisions of the CRC, the
United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, the body of independent
experts established under this Convention to monitor states parties’
compliance with the treaty, urged Iran:
“to take the necessary steps to immediately suspend the
execution of all death penalties imposed on persons for having committed a
crime before the age of 18, to take the appropriate legal measures to convert
them to penalties in conformity with the provisions of the Convention and to
abolish the death penalty as a sentence imposed on persons for having
committed crimes before the age of 18, as required by article 37 of the
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