6Rang | 5 November 2014 – During the 31 October UN session of the 2014 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Iran, member states presented a total of 291 recommendations to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Eleven of those recommendations, which were offered by Argentina, Spain, Italy, Iceland, Uruguay, Israel, Denmark, Chile, Canada, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, addressed the rights of sexual minorities.
As an example, Iceland recommended repealing laws that criminalise consensual same-sex sexual relations; amend laws and policies that treat homosexuality as a mental disorder and outlaw forced sterilisation and reparative therapies against LGBT individuals and protect those individuals against torture and other ill-treatment. Another recommendation was given by the Italian representative who asked Iran to end discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and ensure that forced sterilisation does not take place on grounds of gender identity.
The Iranian Network for Lesbians and Transgenders (6Rang) and Justice for Iran (JFI) presented a detailed research report and recommendations on the situation of LGBT individuals during meetings and preparatory sessions ahead of the 2014 Iran UPR. Different countries were invited to consider offering recommendations, which were adopted by those countries and given to the Islamic Republic.
Shadi Amin, the Coordinator of 6Rang stated: “We are delighted to see an increase both in the number and content of relevant recommendations compared to the previous UPR, when only three recommendations addressed the rights of the LGBT. The recommendations focused on issues of criminalization of same sex relations as well as banning forced operations, procedures, torture and harassment of citizens based on their sexual orientation and gender identity.” Furthermore, she declared that “the manner in which the Iranian authorities approached the session imparted the impression that they will not accept any of the eleven recommendations. However, for the Iranian LGBT community, the fact that their challenges were addressed at the international level and presented by various state members in order to hold the Islamic Republic responsible, is a significant victory.”
In response to the UPR recommendations regarding LGBT Iranians, Mohammad Javad Larijani, the Head of the Human Rights Council of the Judiciary in Iran, stated that under no circumstances will the Islamic Republic of Iran “accept imposing a lifestyle under the banner or umbrella of human rights”, indicating that the lifestyle of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in no circumstances or arguments can be legitimized and justified.
He said: “…major documents of human rights were adopted about 70 years ago but up to 20 years ago most of the Western community had in mind that homosexuality should be forbidden, homosexuality was considered a disease, even in the United Stated, a genius in computer sciences, Alan Turin was indicted for homosexual tendencies in Los Angeles and he was forced to under go progesterone therapy to cure his disease. For this 50 years nobody in the Western community said that homosexuality is against human rights, I mean the laws against homosexuality, forbidding homosexuality was not considered in contradiction with laws of human rights. All of a sudden when homosexuality is becoming a fashion of the lifestyle in Western community you are requesting every other state to follow your suit, this is a bad egocentrism.”
In this regard it must be noticed that also three Latin American countries, which are not considered as Western countries, recommended the Islamic Republic of Iran to stop execution of homosexuals and end discrimination against homosexuals during the UPR session.
In Iran homosexuality is considered a crime. Iran is among five countries in the world that apply the death penalty to those engaging in same sex relations. Likewise, other forms of sexual identity, including cross-dressing, are considered as crime and are punishable by lashing.
During a TV interview prior to the UPR session Larijani indicated he considers homosexuality a disease which patients should be treated through biological means.” This attitude describes the policy towards LGBT in Iran, which are systematically subject to forced treatment in order to become ‘normalized’.
Larijani also used the case of Turing, a British citizen, as an argument for his position during the UPR session. Shadi Amin commented on this by declaring that: “it is ironic for Larijani to refer to Turing’s case. He was neither British nor American, but when in 1952 his homosexual identity became evident the British government forced him to choose between imprisonment and treatment of his “misguided” identity through hormone therapy. He chose therapy, which resulted in his depression and eventual death under mysterious circumstances in 1954. As of 1962 homosexuality is no longer considered a crime in the UK. In 2009 his memory was honored while in 2013 he was legally pardoned by the Queen, so Iran can no longer use crimes committed 70 years ago to justify its violations committed today.”
The findings of research carried out by 6Rang points to the fact that in light of Iran’s medical approach to homosexuality many citizens are forced to seek “treatment” and undergo sex change procedures that are carried out with substandard measures and lack of full and free consent of the recipients. The findings also show that the failure of legal protection against change of homosexuality results in the lack of enjoyment of accessing rights and escaping violence.
Furthermore, Larijani emphasised that Iran “indulges” in “multicultural universalism” and “universality means, we should universally indulge in the promotion of human rights, we should have a multicultural universalism, universality should not be a vehicle for other countries to attack other countries way of lifestyle.”
According to its international commitments, the Islamic Republic of Iran is bound to implement the principle of non-discrimination in cases involving all citizens, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. Shadi Amin states that “Larijani is proud to follow age old laws that victimise individuals. He is proud that for over 30 years he has enforced “medical treatment” on LGBT citizens to face hormone therapy and sex change procedures in order to become normal “women and men” and live deprived of the experience of love for their entire lives. Larinaji and his government cannot deny human rights advancement in the name of cultural relativism and avoid joining international conventions.”
During the recent UPR session, recommendations furthermore addressed the rights of women, abolition of the death penalty, lack of rights for the Baha’i minority, child marriages, juvenile executions, lack of access to the right of defence for the accused, abolition of torture and rights of ethnic minorities. The Islamic Republic is given until March 2015 to announce which recommendations it choses to accept and implement.