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Iran: The Struggle for LGBT Rights and Protests

After the custodial death of Mahsa Amini, a young Kurdish woman who was arrested by morality police for reportedly wearing her hijab "improperly," in September last year, protests broke out across Iran.

The Islamic Republic has retaliated with lethal force. According to the Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA), security forces have killed at least 530 demonstrators since the protests started, including 71 children.

The UN claims that four individuals were subjected to unjust trials that relied on coerced confessions before they were executed on charges relating to protests. Many more people who have been found guilty face the possibility of execution.

Despite this, following the country-wide protests and march for freedom that quivered the nation, LQBT voices have surfaced in Iran.

The LGBT community in Iran faces significant challenges and discrimination due to the country's conservative religious and cultural values. Homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death, and transgender individuals also face legal and social discrimination.

Queer Movement in Iran

During the protest movement, young LGBTQ people resisted the regime's prohibitions on public displays of affection and same-sex intimacy. They did this by taking off their hijabs and kissing each other in public.

Some have come to the streets with signs that read "Woman, Life, Freedom" and "Queer, Life, Freedom," the de facto slogans of the protest movement, as well as the colours of the Pride and trans flags. Some people find the word "queer" offensive, but for others, it's the best way to define their gender identity or sexual orientation.

Others have distributed flyers to passersby on the streets that have been hand-painted in the colours of the Pride flag and state, "The Iranian LGBTQ family stands by you." The rising exposure of the LGBTQ community has been warmly embraced by many Iranians on social media.

However, the action has drawn criticism from some. Along with the overtly homophobic responses, a long-dormant query has reappeared: "Is it the "right moment" for a discussion of LGBTQ rights in Iran?"

When marginalised groups have claimed rights throughout Iran's contemporary history, similar problems have arisen. When thousands of women protested the imposition of the required hijab laws during the 1979 Islamic Revolution, various political parties used the phrase "Is this the right time for that?" to dissuade them.

Iranian Laws and the LGBT

Community Iranian law criminalizes same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults, with punishments ranging from 74 lashes to execution. This creates an environment where LGBT individuals are forced to hide their identities and live in fear of being discovered.

LGBT individuals in Iran often face harassment, discrimination, and violence from both the government and the general population. The Iranian government has been known to use entrapment techniques to arrest and prosecute LGBT individuals.They use social media and dating apps to lure them into meetings before arresting them.

Additionally, transgender individuals are not recognized by the Iranian government. They are often forced to undergo gender confirmation surgery to obtain legal recognition of their gender identity. Despite these challenges, there are still LGBT individuals and organizations working to create change in Iran.

These individuals and groups often operate underground to avoid persecution, providing support to each other and advocating for their rights. They also use social media to connect and raise awareness about the discrimination they face.

There have been some positive developments in recent years. They include the establishment of underground LGBT-friendly cafes and the creation of an online support network for LGBT individuals. Some Iranian celebrities and public figures have also spoken out in support of LGBT rights, although this is still considered a controversial topic in Iran.

Overall, the situation for the LGBT community in Iran remains difficult. There is still a long way to go to achieve equality and acceptance. However, the bravery and resilience of those working toward change are inspiring and provide hope for a better future.

Edited by- Adedamola Aregbesola

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