Fact Sheet: LGBTQ Community in Iran Faces Deadly Violence and Severe Rights Abuses
Persecution and Discrimination by State and Society Pervades Daily Life
August 26, 2021—In a new LGBTQ Fact Sheet published today by the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI), the extreme rights violations and deadly violence perpetrated by both the state and society against the LGBTQ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer) in Iran are highlighted in a concise, accessible format for researchers, journalists, and policymakers.
- Iran is one of only six countries that impose the death penalty for same-sex relations.
- The death penalty can and has been applied to juvenile LGBTQ individuals.
- Flogging and imprisonment are also imposed for many same-sex acts and cross-dressing.
- Activists are convicted of national security crimes for peaceful LGBTQ advocacy.
- Honor killings by LGBTQ family members are encouraged by lenient laws.
- 77% of LGBTQ people surveyed in Iran reported experiencing violence in homes and communities.
- LGBTQ children are unprotected from violence and frequently expelled from homes and schools.
- Any LGBTQ-related online content posted or shared is punishable by prison and flogging.
LGBTQ individuals are routinely forced to undergo dangerous conversion therapy to “cure” them of their “disorder,” which uses electric shock, psychoactive drugs, sterilization, and shaming, and which the UN has stated is tantamount to torture. If they are not “cured,” they are pressured to undergo sex reassignment surgery (SRS).
Transgender people must undergo SRS or risk prosecution—which accounts for Iran’s extremely high rate of SRS. Yet SRS in Iran is extremely dangerous—while subsidized by the state, the pre-surgery process is abusive, the surgery is typically performed by ill-trained surgeons, and botched procedures and poor follow-up care often result in permanent medical complications.
Iran’s New President Raisi: Homosexuality is “Nothing But Savagery”
Meanwhile, Iranian government officials engage in hate speech against the LGBTQ community, which encourages state and societal violence against individuals. For example, Ebrahim Raisi, who is now Iran’s president, said in 2014 (when he headed Iran’s judiciary) that homosexuality is “nothing but savagery.”
LGBTQ people are discriminated against in all walks of life in Iran—housing, education, work, healthcare, courts—yet there are no protections against violence or discrimination for them. Because same-sex relations are criminalized, LGBTQ individuals cannot go to the police or courts without risking prosecution themselves.
CHRI publishes Fact Sheets on a broad range of rights issues, including Women’s Rights, Labor in Iran, Children’s Rights, the Internet, Deaths in State Custody, and Disability Rights. These Fact Sheets are designed to highlight key information on important human rights issues in a concise, accessible format for researchers, journalists, and policymakers.