Tuesday, August 08, 2006

i got the following statement from maha-- anunderground gay magazine for and by iranians.

while some privileged queer activists of america andeurope can choose to get ugly to each other over "how"to just "help" iranian gays and lesbians, as ifiranians are alien to the concept of human rights andhence the need to "find" a way to "better" voice theconcerns of human rights, gay iranians remain humblein their struggle to exist. and while insulted, theyremain grateful.



from MAHA majaleh_maha@yahoo.com

We note some differences of opinion in theinternational lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement about how to best support LGBT people in Iran. Wewould like to express our view, and we believe that a great number of our readers share our opinion.

Iranian society has developed despite the oppression. The demand for democracy and human rights is growing inour country.

We believe that the human rights of Iranian women, students, workers and LGBT people are not western phenomenon but aspects of universal human rights and are important for human freedom, dignity andfulfilment in Iran – and everywhere.

Despite all our difficulties and dangers, the IranianLGBT community is getting more and more informed and isexpressing its demand for human rights. We identify as LGBTpeople and want the same freedoms that LGBT people worldwidewant.

Let no one claim there is not homophobic oppression inIran. Every LGBT Iranian is at potential risk of arrest,imprisonment, flogging and execution. Avoiding such a fate requiresleading a double life and hiding one’s sexuality. Even thoughthere are secret gay parties and magazines, we are all at risk. Great discretion is the only thing that keeps many of usfrom the jails of the authorities – and worse.

Any disagreement over the reason for the execution ofMahmoud and Ayaz in the city of Mashhad last July does not alterthe fact that the execution of men and women indulging in same-sexrelations is mandatory in the penal code of Iran.

For the record, we believe the two teenagers werehanged because of their homosexuality. The authorities arewell-known for pinning false charges on the victims they execute. We urgepeople to never take at face value the charges claimed by the courtsand newspapers. They are not reliable. In late July 2006, forexample, a BBC television programme in England exposed how theIranian authorities made false allegations about Atefah Sahaaleh, who wasexecuted in the city of Neka in 2004 for “crimes againstchastity”. The Iranian courts even lied about her age, claiming she was 22 atthe time of her execution. In fact, she was only 16 – a minor, likeMahmoud and Ayaz.

We express our appreciation and admiration for theunited efforts worldwide on July 19 in support of Iranian LGBTpeople, against homophobic oppression and all executions in Iran. These efforts gave us Iranian LGBTs hope and inspiration. It isgood for our morale to know that people in other countries careabout us and are pressing the Iranian authorities to halt theirhomophobic persecution.

Some prominent authorities here in Iran publiclycondemned same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage,following last year’s international protests against the Mashhadhangings.

This shows that your protests are having an effect.

The authorities in Tehran are concerned about the badpublicity they are getting all over the world.

Please do not stop. International protests areeffective and we urge all groups around the world to work togetherfor the common good of LGBT Iranians.

There is growing activity by Iranian LGBTs, bothinside and outside Iran, to enlighten people about sexualdiversity and respect for individual sexual orientation. OurE-magazine is part of that process.

The Iranian LGBT community in exile plays an importantrole in the struggle for LGBT rights in Iran. We believethat unity and cooperation between all LGBT Iranian activists isvital and important and we advocate this unity.

LGBT rights are part of human rights and they will beachieved in Iran by a joint effort from all Iranians for ademocratic and modern Iran. International support for the democracystruggle inside Iran, at every level, is laudable and helpful.

We express our strongest opposition to any militaryintervention or military action against our beloved county Iran. Itwill not help the democratic struggle here but only strengthenthe position of the conservative religious hardliners. War wouldclose down the opportunities for reform. The authorities woulduse the pretext of “national security” to suppress debate anddissent, including the work of LGBT Iranians

Within our country, LGBTs need to make alliances withother oppressed sectors of the population who share our commitment todemocracy and human rights. It would be a mistake to see LGBT rightsas separate from the broader humanitarian struggle in Iran. Isolatingour movement wouldkeep it weak and marginal. LGBT rights should be apart of the mainstream Iranian democratic agenda.

We believe that Iranian LGBTs need support at everylevel, both nationally and internationally – from the UN, EU and nationalgovernments, and from human rights, NGO and LGBT organisations worldwide. We value your solidarity.

International pressure on the Iranian authoritiesregarding human rights and LGBT rights is effective and we welcome it.

Portraying homosexual rights in Iran only as asocio-cultural issue is harmful for our unity and the success of our struggle. It isour view that LGBT rights are about social, cultural, economic, legal andpolitical justice. One cannot fight for LGBT people but ignore discrimination in thelaw and the fact that the Iranian authorities have made sexual orientation apolitical issue by denouncing and outlawing same-sex relations, and bypunishing LGBTs with imprisonment and violent abuse, including torture andhanging.

We do not agree that the LGBT issue in Iran is purelya cultural matter. LGBT rights are a political issue too. Achieving LGBTrights in Iran demands hard work, both socio-cultural and political –changing laws and institutions, as well as changing people’s valuesand attitudes.
Iranian homosexuals are oppressed by the authorities. But in some other Muslim countries, like Lebanon and Turkey, LGBT peopleare able to form their own organisations, organise conferences andpublish their information. This shows that greater liberalisation is possible ina Muslim country.

That is why, we strongly believe that in the currentsituation, the central obstacles against homosexual rights in Iran are theanti-homosexual laws. That is why the removal of discrimination against LGBTpeople in the country’s penal code is vital. It would pave the way for asignificant improvement of LGBT people’s lives by changing the law and removingthe threat of arrest and other abuses. We also need democratic,reform-minded people to lead the country and to secure changes in the educationsystem and the media to combat homophobic prejudice and to promoteunderstanding and acceptance of LGBT people.

Due to the current homophobic repression in Iran, weare unable to openly express our demand for LGBT human rights. That is whyinternational LGBT pressure on the Iranian authorities, in solidaritywith Iranian LGBT people,is most vital and welcome.

We thank you for your support. -- MAHA