TV & Radio
Pressure Mounts Over Iranian Execution Of Gay Teens
by Malcolm Thornberry 365Gay.com European Bureau Chief
Posted: July 25, 2005 12:01 am ET
(London) International indignation is rising over the hanging of two gay teens last week by the Iranian government.
Mahmoud Asgari, 16, and Ayaz Marhoni, 18, were publicly executed in the northern city of Mashhad. (story) They said before their executions that they were not aware that homosexual acts were punishable by death.
Calls for Iran to publicly rebuked for its treatment of gays has resounded from Washington to Moscow.
Russian gay leaders have called on President Vladimir Putin to condemn executions.
"The Russian Federation can not close the eyes to the middle aged barbarity and huge human rights violations," said the letter to Putin, signed by Nikolai Alekseev the head of LGBT rights Web site GayRussia.ru and by Evgeniaya Debryanskaya the leader of Gayly.ru, a site for lesbians.
The letter calls on Putin to stop diplomatic and trade relations with the “barbarian regime of Islamic extremists”.
Russia is one of the biggest economic partners of Iran and consequently has may ways to pressure the regime.
In Sweden, Foreign Ministry spokesman Per Saland said the government was "looking very seriously" at the hangings, following a formal complaint by the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay and Transgender Rights.
"We are against the death penalty and we particularly react when it comes to the execution of minors, pregnant women and the mentally disabled," Saland said.
The Federation for Lesbian, Gay and Transgender Rights' chair, Soren Andersson, called on the Swedish government not to deport gay and lesbian asylum seekers back to Iran.
"Sweden has turned gay and lesbian refugees back to Iran and they should know that these people could be killed," he said.
Being gay or lesbian should be enough for refugees to remain in Sweden and not be returned to Iran, he added.
In London, rights group OutRage which first brought world attention to the hangings, called on the Blair government to lodge a formal complaint with Iran.
Friday the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization urged Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to publicly condemn the executions. (story)
"This crime warrants an immediate and strong condemnation from the Department of State," said the letter, signed by HRC President Joe Solmonese.
In Tehran, Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi condemned the execution and discounted the government's assertion that the two - an 18 year old and a youth 16 had raped younger boys in the northeastern part of the country.
Ebadi, who runs the Center for the Protection of Human Rights in Tehran, said that the executions violated the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Iran is a signatory.
"My calls for a law clearly banning execution of under-18s has fallen on deaf ears so far but I will not give up the fight," Ebadi told The Associated Press.
Ebadi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, has campaigned to protect the rights of children and improve human rights in Iran but has met stiff resistance from the judiciary, which is controlled by hard-liners.