Defending LGBT Rights in Iran is more urgent than ever

6Rang statement for the International Human Rights Day 2019

International Human Rights Day this year is different for us. We approach this day shortly after extended protests in Iran over petrol prices, government corruption, widespread poverty, lack of political and civil liberties, and internet shutdown. The numbers of casualties resulting from the atrocious government crackdown on these demonstrations rises by the day. So far, Amnesty International has confirmed the death of more than 300 people and the figure continues to grow as updates come in. Moreover, according to the government’s own sources, more than 7000 protesters have been arrested.

Amongst those that are detained, 6Rang is most concerned about those whose sexual orientation and gender identity and expression may become an additional reason for their abuse and ill-treatment while in detention. This concern is heightened as the current general view amongst many of the Iranian human rights defenders is that LGBTI rights should not take priority amidst so many pressing issues. However, LGBTI people are amongst the most marginalised and most vulnerable groups, alongside ethnic and religious minorities, people with disabilities, and Afghan refugees. Protecting human rights and dignity requires us to protect everyone equally. Therefore, fighting for LGBTI rights should not be deprioritised.

6Rang, as a member of the LGBTI community, is also deeply concerned by the general absence of news coverage of important events for this community. The Universal Periodic Review, where more than 10 countries recommended that consensual same-sex conduct be decriminalised in Iran, and the presence of LGBTI individuals in the demonstrations, are examples of events that have received little to no coverage in the media. The media has a critical role to play in sharing the voice of this community and breaking the silence with regards to the violations of their rights. 6Rang calls on all defenders of freedom and democracy, human rights organisations and the media to contribute, in their unique ways, to placing the demands of the Iranian LGBTI community as an indispensable necessity in current and future Iranian movements.

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