In Iran, discrimination and exclusion of LGBTI founded in the legal framework also has a prominence in the education sphere.
The law in Iran lays the foundation for the human rights abuses against LGBTI people. This legal regime prohibits consensual same-sex conduct and perceived expressions of lesbian, gay, and transgender identity. The Penal Code imposes penalties, including flogging and the death penalty, for the violations of these prohibitions.
LGBTI individuals must either seek to “cure” themselves of their desires and expressions to obtain equal recognition before the law or live a marginalised life marked by homophobic hate crimes, police abuse, torture, family and community violence, and widespread discrimination in access to education, employment and other areas of life.
State-sponsored hate speech against the LGBTI is widespread as government officials actively incite people to hatred and violence against the LGBTI. These leaders and state-controlled media outlets consistently use hate speech and dehumanising rhetoric against LGBTI people describing them as “animalistic”, “subhuman”, “sick” and “diseased”. This discourse promotes and justifies hate and violence against LGBTI people in the family, society, and in educational institutions perpetrated by officials as well as peers.
In response to the 2020 questionnaire from the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education, 6Rang submitted this contribution discussing the exclusionary and discriminatory practices against the LGBTI in Iran’s education system.
LGBTI Pupils frequently suffer harassment and thrashing by school administrators as well as rape and violence perpetrated by peers. Some LGBTI pupils are harassed and abused so often and so severely that they are left with no choice but to abandon their education and drop out of school.
Regarding the curriculum, the Iranian government forbids sex education in schools in general and specifically education on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression. When Iran became a signatory of UNESCO’s Sustainable Development Goals 2030, the Leader of Iran called it a trojan of “corrupt and devastating Western lifestyle” because this documented required Iran to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. As a result, this document was abrogated.
Concerning the stakeholders, such as parents of the students affected, they often have no good understanding of their children’s right to education. This means when LGBTI students are denied education or expelled from school, the parents seek no recourse and do not resist the discriminatory system. This lack of information, in turn, is caused by heavy censorship from the State that control what kind of information is given to parents.
As preparation for this contribution, we asked our social media audience “what would you like to see changed in our schooling system?” A significant majority of the respondents, 34 per cent, said that they would like to see religious studies removed from the curriculum. The second most frequent category of responses, 21 per cent, included adding sex education and LGBTI awareness to the curriculum. A final common recommendation, based on 8 per cent of the responses, was changing the education culture. The remaining 37 per cent of the responses were mixed. Some of the notable mixed responses included hiring professional psychologists for the counselling of the students, focusing more on scientific education as opposed to ideological, teaching virtue and meeting international standards.
Download the full submission below.