Friday, February 16, 2007

Iran's gays risk death for report

The Star: Images of young men hanging out in dimly lit parks and coffee shops hint at a side of Iran the West doesn't see behind the defiant posturing of fundamentalist president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his trumpeted nuclear program.
Such fraternizing doesn't catch the eye of locals in Tehran, in a culture where men and women live highly segregated lives. But a closer look reveals a glimpse of Iran's Secret Gay World – a Canadian documentary to air on CBC Newsworld Sunday evening.

Arsham Parsi, an Iranian exile in Toronto, is intimately familiar with that world, having founded what passes for a gay-rights movement in his homeland as early as 2002. That's when he began an email list, circulating information to a group of 50 gays and lesbians on such topics as safe sex, equality rights and underground gatherings.
It was the Internet that first helped Parsi, now 26, put a label to his attraction to men. At 16, after studying the Qur'an from cover to cover for something that would explain his affection, Parsi added the word "men" to a Google search and discovered he's gay.
"I was very happy because I knew I wasn't alone in my feeling in this world. It's normal," noted Parsi, founder in 2004 of the Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization. "I was also afraid, because all Islamic books said the problem was very bad and should be punished by execution, stoning and hanging."
He was forced a year later to flee Iran to escape security forces and, last May, arrived in Canada as a refugee under the United Nations Convention. He devotes his life in Toronto to educating and helping others through his Iranian Queer Organization (
Parsi said he was surprised to be contacted last summer by fellow Iranian exile Farid Haerinejad, a CBC production editor planning a documentary on Iran's forbidden community. "Most people (in the media) are only interested in Iran's nuclear program," he said. "Here's someone who's interested in the gays and lesbians in Iran."
But the close-knit gay network there was hard to crack; Haerinejad had to film without attracting attention.
"Iran is an Islamic country and the gays want to decriminalize homosexuality. To change the law is to change the law of Islam," notes Haerinejad, 41, whose visit to Tehran last summer was his first since fleeing the Islamic revolution 23 years ago.
"These young gay men were shy at first, but they also had this hunger and thirst to share their life stories," added Haerinejad, who came to Canada in 1992 and is straight.
Participants in the film, stopped numerous times by police, said they were shooting


Rosemary said...

I don't like homosexuality, but that does not make the whole person. That doesn't keep me from being friends with someone who chooses that way of life. This is so totally wrong of Iran.

OT: The vote is in: 142-181 the non-binding resolution passed with 17 repupuke-ians. Would you like to get them out of Congress? You can help by joining the Victory Caucus. Just the sheer number of Americans (R or D, doesn't matter) that are truly angered by this foolishness is having a result in Congress.

We got the Senate to fold. No money to either party. That gets them to listen! We also (well, the people in the know) are recruiting candidates to replace the cowards who voted for this nonsense.

How can they send our men and women into war and then want to quit because the newspapers won't cover the war properly? They glorify the anti-American groups (anti-war), and they show nothing that is going well in Iraq.

They also don't realize that as long as we are in Iraq, the better the chances are we WON'T have to fight Iran! She is surrounded. I pray everyday for her people, the people with a heart of gold and good sense.

Oh my. I'm just ramblin' away, eh? LOL. Have a great day. :)

serendip said...

Dear Rosemary: I share the same feelings about homosexuals.

They also don't realize that as long as we are in Iraq, the better the chances are we WON'T have to fight Iran!

This is the most keen and brilliant observations I have read so far. Thanks and God Bless.

Rosemary said...

Oops. Wrong count. Here is the correct count: 246-181. :)