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Lesbians in Iran

LGBT Rights in Iran

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Gays and lesbians may complain about their treatment or lack of rights in the United States and Europe, but in countries like Iran, gays and lesbians literally have to fight for their lives. According to the Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO), Iranian law defines homosexuality as a crime punishable by death.

And even though the beatings, torture and hangings of gays and lesbians in Iran is well documented, those who escape Iran are often denied asylum. Such is the case of an Iranian lesbian who is living in Britain.

According to Pink News an Iranian lesbian who has been denied refuge by the British government is due to be deported to Tehran this month (August 2007), where she faces almost certain death.

Iranian Lesbian Faces Deportation

Pegah Emambakhsh is a 40 year old lesbian who sought asylum in the UK in 2005. She fled Iran after her partner was arrested, tortured and sentenced to death by stoning. If she is returned to Iran, IRQO is certain she will be, at the very least, tortured and most likely sentenced to death. IRQO is calling for an international plea to help save Pegah’s life and the lives of other Iranian gay and lesbian asylum seekers.

Earlier this year the UK Gay News interviewed a 48-year-old lesbian who escaped Iran 17 years ago. The woman, whose name was not used for her own safety, said she was arrested and tortured, the first time when she was 21. She spent three months in prison.

The second time she was arrested was much worse. She was imprisoned for two years where they threatened her with hanging. She was given 160 lashes, tied to a bed in the middle of the prison yard, while the other prisoners watched. They threatened to burn her. She said she was tied to a car and pulled across the ground.

Lesbians in Prison in Iran

While in prison, she met 38 others who were also arrested for being lesbian.

Eventually she was released because people she knew were able to use bribes to get her out. She fled the country and ended up in the UK. Although she is out of Iran, her fear has stayed with her. Read her full story here.

Because laws for women are so restrictive, Iranian lesbians often have a harder time than their gay male counterparts. Choob Dosar-Gohi wrote in Unspoken Rules, a book about women’s rights in Iran. "Under the current Iranian regime, widespread legal and social persecution of sexual minorities makes it impossible for lesbians to form organizations or to live openly in any aspect of their lives." A small gay rights movement is underway in Iran. The CBC produced a documentary about Iran’s gay rights movement, but little is mentioned of lesbians. If there is any lesbian movement in Iran, most likely it is very underground.

For more about Lesbians in Iran: Homan

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