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  • #91
    Part II
    When Reza Kahn overthrew the monarchy's Qajar dynasty and made himself shah in 1925, he ushered in a new wave of reforms and modernization that included attempts to outlaw homosexuality entirely and a ferocious - ultimately successful - assault on classical Persian poetry. Iraj Mirza, previously known for his homoerotic poems, "joined other leading political figures of this period in encouraging compulsory heterosexuality." These politicians and intellectuals insisted that "true patriotism required switching one's sexual orientation from boys to women... Other intellectuals and educators pressed for the elimination of poems with homosexual themes from school textbooks."

    Leading this crusade was a famous historian and prolific journalist, Ahmad Kasravi, "who helped shape many cultural and educational policies during the 1930s and 1940s." Kasravi founded a nationalist movement, Pak Dini (Purity of Religion), which developed a broad following. An admirer of MN, Kasravi preached that "homosexuality was a measure of cultural backwardness," that Sufi poets of homoeroticism led "parasitic" lives, and that their queer poetry "was dangerous and had to be eliminated."

    Kasravi's Pak Dini movement "went so far as to institute a festival of book burning, held on winter solstice. Books deemed harmful and amoral were thrown into a bonfire in an event that seemed to echo the Nazi and Soviet-style notions of eliminating 'degenerate' art." Eventually, Prime Minister Mahmoud Jam, who held office from 1935 to 1939, acceded to Kasravi's demand that homoerotic poems be banned entirely from daily newspapers.

    Kasravi "based his opposition to the homoeroticism of classical poetry on several assumptions. He expected the young generation to study Western sciences in order to rebuild the nation, and he regarded Sufi poetry as a dangerous diversion. As preposterous as it might sound, Kasravi also argued that the revival of Persian poetry was a grand conspiracy concocted by British and German Orientalists to divert the nation's youth from the revolutionary legacy of the Constitutional Revolution and to encourage... immoral pursuits."

    Afary adds sorrowfully that "most supporters of women's rights sympathized with Kasravi's project because he encouraged the cultivation of monogamous, heterosexual love in marriage... In this period, neither Kasravi nor feminists distinguished between rape or molestation of boys and consensual same-sex relations between adults."

    The expansion of radio, television, and print media in the 1940s - including a widely read daily, Parcham, published from 1941 by Kasravi's Pak Dini movement - resulted in a nationwide discussion about the evils of pederasty and, ultimately, in significant official censorship of literature. References to same-sex love and the love of boys were eliminated in textbooks and even in new editions of classical poetry. "Classical poems were now illustrated by miniature paintings celebrating heterosexual, rather than homosexual, love and students were led to believe that the love object was always a woman, even when the text directly contradicted that assumption," Arafy writes.

    In the context of a triumphant censorship that erased from the popular collective memory the enormous literary and cultural heritage of what Afary terms "the ethics of male love" in the classical Persian period, it is hardly surprising as Afary earlier noted in "Foucault and the Iranian Revolution" that the virulence of the current Iranian regime's anti-homosexual repression stems in part from the role homosexuality played in the 1979 revolution that brought the Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers to power.

    In that earlier work, she and her co-author, Kevin B. Anderson, wrote: "There is... a long tradition in nationalist movements of consolidating power through narratives that affirm patriarchy and compulsory heterosexuality, attributing sexual abnormality and immorality to a corrupt ruling elite that is about to be overthrown and/or is complicit with foreign imperialism. Not all the accusations leveled against the [the deposed shah of Iran, and his] Pahlevi family and their wealthy supporters stemmed from political and economic grievances. A significant portion of the public anger was aimed at their 'immoral' lifestyle. There were rumors that a gay lifestyle was rampant at the court. The shah's prime minister, Amir Abbas Hoveyda, was said to have been a homosexual. The satirical press routinely lampooned him for his meticulous attire, the purple orchid in his lapel, and his supposed marriage of convenience. The shah himself was rumored to be bisexual. There were reports that a close male friend of the shah from Switzerland, a man who knew him from their student days in that country, routinely visited him.

    "But the greatest public outrage was aimed at two young, elite men with ties to the court who held a mock wedding ceremony. Especially to the highly religious, this was public confirmation that the Pahlevi house was corrupted with the worst kinds of sexual transgressions, that the shah was no longer master of his own house. These rumors contributed to public anger, to a sense of shame and outrage, and ultimately were used by the Islamists in their calls for a revolution."

    Soon after coming to power in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini established the death penalty for homosexuality.

    In "Sexual Politics in Modern Iran," Afary sums up the situation for homosexuals under the Ahmadinejad regime in this way: "While the shari'a [Islamic law] requires either the actual confession of the accused or four witnesses who observed them in flagrante delicto, today's authorities look only for medical evidence of penetration in homosexual relationships. Upon finding such evidence, they pronounce the death sentence. Because execution of men on charges of homosexuality has prompted international outrage, the state has tended to compound these charges with others, such as rape and pedophilia. Continual use of these tactics has undermined the status of Iran's gay community and attenuated public sympathy for them. Meanwhile, many Iranians believe that pedophilia is rampant in the religious cities of Qum and Mashad, including in the seminaries, where temporary marriage and prostitution are also pervasive practices." (Full disclosure: in her section on gays in today's Iran, Afary cites my reporting several times and thanks me in the book's acknowledgements for sharing materials and insights with her.)

    In this necessarily truncated summary of some of Afary's most significant and nuanced findings and revelations with respect to homosexuality, it is impossible to do justice to the full sweep and scope of "Sexual Politics in Iran," the larger part of which is devoted to the role of Iranian women, and to their struggles for freedom which began in the 19th century. But as Afary herself writes, "[F]or a very long time even talking about the pervasive homoeroticism of the region's premodern culture had been labeled 'Orientalism'... [but] increasingly I found that one could not simply talk about gender and women's rights, particularly rights within marriage, without addressing the subject of same-sex relations."

    This she has done with uncommon sensitivity, intellectual rigor, engagement, subtlety, and skill.

    And for that, both Iranian lesbians and gays and feminists in that nation owe Afary an enormous debt of gratitude, as do all of us concerned with sexual liberation for everyone worldwide.


    • #92
      Homosexual Iranian man from Shiraz

      Clip description says: "Four young gay Iranians flee to Turkey and beyond - a poignant story of punishment, persecution and, ultimately, promise. One escapee is now politically active in Canada."

      Gay rights activist Arsham Parsi is featured.




      • #93
        Maro Bebakhsh

        Anonymous Sinners



        • #94
          Gay Iranians

          Seeking asylum in UK

          A remarkable insight into the lives of two gay Iranian men living in Leeds. We follow them as they establish their new lives in the UK and the setting up of a new support group by the two who have become friends since arriving in Bradford. They both fled Iran after their boyfriends were captured by the authorities, one of whom was tragically executed.


          • #95
            Vahid Kiani Motlagh, the 32-year-old Iranian gay refugee who faced deportation in the next few days, was transferred yesterday morning from the Saint-Exupery (Lyons) detention centre in France to Fiumicino airport, in Rome, Italy, on the grounds of the Dublin Convention and the Dublin II Directive. He was released in the afternoon by Italian Police.

            The Chairman of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Gianfranco Fini has personally taken an interest in the case after EveryOne Group's appeal, activating diplomacy policy with the Italian Foreign Affairs Minister, Franco Frattini, and the Farnesina, who reassured us that everyone is working on Vahid's case: Vahid will not be deported back to Iran and will soon obtain humanitarian protection and refugee status in Italy” announced Roberto Malini, Matteo Pegoraro and Dario Picciau, co-presidents of the international human rights organization.

            It has been a difficult campaign which we at EveryOne Group followed step by step, through diplomacy with the French and Italian institutions and authorities, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and the European Parliament - thanks to the Italian official, Ottavio Marzocchi, member of the Radical association Certi Diritti, who worked together with us to save Vahid's life.

            EveryOne Group, together with Vahid and his partner Patrick, has sent a message of thanks to the Radical association “Certi Diritti” and the Massimo Consoli Foundation in Rome; to Gianfranco Fini and his political advisor Alessandro Cortese; to Arcigay Rome, which is now following Vahid's humanitarian protection's instances; to MPs Concia and Della Vedova; MEPs Lambert, Romeva, Cashman, In´t Veld, Lunacek, Gröner; to Dirk De Marileir, ILGA-Europe Director; to the Italian Republican Party and to the Italian young Jews' movement, who asked the Italian Government to respect Vahid's rights; to the journalist of the La Repubblica newspaper, Mr. Giampaolo Cadalanu; to LGBT blogs and websites for their interest in the case; to Arcilesbica Rome, Azione Trans, GayNet and the international human rights organizations network who cooperated on the case.


            • #96
              Muslim-majority Malaysia has banned British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's raunchy comedy "Bruno" because it contains "a lot of sex," a senior official said Tuesday.

              The film, which stars Cohen as a gay Austrian fashionista, has been a box office hit in some countries while being banned elsewhere for over-the-top scenes including sex acts and full-frontal nudity.

              "The movie has been banned in Malaysia because of the sexual content. It was decided by a three-man committee. (There is) a lot of sex in it," an official with the National Film Censorship Board told AFP.

              He said the panel judges movies based on whether they feature violence, horror, sex or counter-cultural themes.

              "In the case of Bruno, the ban is based on its sex and counter-culture content," he said on condition of anonymity.

              The government confirmed the ban, saying the movie contained pornographic scenes and touched on the sensitivities of Christians.

              "The National Film Censorship Board found the film produced by Universal Picture Productions was not in line with the culture and ethics as well as way of life in the country," the home ministry said in a statement.

              Following the same format as his 2006 movie "Borat," Cohen's character travels to the United States where bizarre scenarios unfold including one where he mimes sexual activity while visiting a medium.

              Other controversial scenes include Bruno and his boyfriend engaged in sexual acts and couples having sex at a swingers' party.

              "Borat" was also banned in Malaysia, a conservative country with a multicultural population including 60 percent Muslim Malays.

              Since last year alone, Malaysia has banned five movies, the most recent being US horror film Halloween II, written and directed by Rob Zombie.


              • #97

                What does it like being gay in Iran?