"Iran must immediately halt the executions of two women sentenced to death about their support for the human rights of LGBT people," UN experts said in a released on Wednesday.
On 1 September, LGBT rights activists Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani and Elham Choubdar were sentenced to death by the Iranian judicial authorities for "corruption on earth," including promoting sexuality and communication with anti-Islamic Republic media channels and "trafficking."
Although the reasons for these charges are not public yet, the UN has been privately informed that the two women were charged for "speech and actions in support of the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans and other gender-diverse (LGBT) persons who face discrimination in Iran based on their sexual orientation and gender identity."
The trafficking charges are connected with the support they were providing to people at risk trying to leave Iran.
Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani was arrested in late 2021 while she was trying to cross Iran's border to seek international protection in Türkiye. She was then reported missing for 53 days and was subjected to abuse in a detention center in Urumieh. Elham Choubdar's date of detention remains unknown.
The UN experts are also monitoring this situation and demanded an investigation into the ill-treatment of Sedighi-Hamadani.
Iran is considered one of the most repressive countries for the LGBTQ+ community. Homosexuality is illegal, and same-sex relations are punishable by death.
There have been consistent reports of discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ people in recent years, including the imposition of the death penalty.
Just at the beginning of this year, two gay men – later identified as Mehrdad Karimpour and Farid Mohammadi - were executed for “forced sexual intercourse between two men” after spending six years on death row.
The experts urge Iran to repeal the death penalty and "reduce the scope of its application to only criminal actions that meet the threshold of the most serious crimes.” Adding that “Authorities have an international obligation to ensure that all human rights defenders in Iran can conduct peaceful and legitimate activities without fear of persecution or reprisals, including those working on sensitive issues such as sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The statement comes at a time of revolt in the country as many women protest the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who died in police custody of the "morality police" after allegedly violating strict dress codes.
At least 76 protesters have died across 14 provinces, including six women and four children. Iranian officials have also announced the arrests of more than 1,200 people.
The UN experts closely monitor the situation and remain in contact with Iranian authorities.
Photo: Amnesty International.
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