LGBT activists sentenced to death

In Iran, two LGBT activists have received death sentences, according to rights organizations.

Zahra Seddiqi Hamedani, 31, and Elham Choubdar, 24, were found guilty of “corruption on Earth” by a court in Urmia.

According to the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, they have been charged of spreading Christianity, homosexuality, and contact with media that is critical of the Islamic Republic.

The convictions were later upheld by Iran’s judiciary, which clarified that they had to do with human trafficking rather than advocacy.

According to the judiciary’s news outlet Mizan, “contrary to the news released in internet and the rumors that have been propagated, these two individuals have been accused of tricking women and young girls and trafficking them to one of the nations in the region.”

Her detention, according to Amnesty International, was “exclusively related to her real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as her social media posts and statements in defense of [LGBT] rights,” the organization previously referred to her as a “gender non-conforming human rights defender.”

She was reportedly detained by the Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) in October 2021 when she tried to enter Turkey to seek asylum, according to the article.

According to the report, she said that she was taken hostage for 53 days and that during that time an IRGC agent subjected her to “severe interrogations accompanied by verbal abuse” and “threatened to execute or otherwise injure her and take away the custody of her two small children.”

According to Amnesty International, Seddiqi Hamedani was accused of “spreading corruption on Earth” in January when she was brought before a prosecutor in Urmia, the largest city in West Azerbaijan. Her alleged crimes included promoting homosexuality, speaking with unfriendly media, and promoting Christianity.

The organization claimed that the first two allegations were a result of her outspoken support for LGBT rights on social media and her presence in a BBC documentary from May 2021 about the mistreatment of LGBT people in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region, where she had been residing.

Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Iran, and offenders face penalties that range from public flogging to the death penalty.

According to Amnesty, the accusation of spreading Christianity was made because the individual was seen wearing a cross necklace and going to a house church in Iran at the time.

Iranian law prohibits non-recognized Christians, Zoroastrians, or Jews from publicly expressing their religion.

Seddiqi Hamedani said in a video she made before attempting to flee Iran: “I want you to know how much pressure we LGBT people face. We put our lives in danger for our feelings, yet we’ll discover who we really are. I look forward to the day when everyone in our nation can live in freedom.

“I am currently traveling toward freedom… I will have sacrificed my life for this cause if I don’t survive.

Hengaw supplied no facts about Elham Choubdar other than claiming that she was from Urmia.

Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network (6-Rang), located in Germany, verified the two activists’ executions and urged other governments to apply pressure on Iran to free them.

According to spokesman Shadi Amin, “This is the first time a woman has been sentenced to death in Iran for her sexual orientation.”

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