Eurovision | Iran | Religion

Iranian Clerics Freak Out Over Non-Existent Gay Pride Parade In Neighboring Country

Azerbaijan_2835_600x450In May, the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest shall be held in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan: a one-time Soviet state which is now a nominally secular democracy, bordered to the south by Iran and inhabited primarily by Shi'ite Muslims. In January, the gay website briefly toyed with the idea of a gay pride parade on the contest's eve. The Azerbaijani media was deeply worried, and various important people in Baku quickly assured reporters that the parade was just a rumor. Even gay Azerbaijanis like Rusian Balukhin, who runs, thought the parade was a terrible idea:

“To take on the organisation [of a parade] you would need guarantees of your safety,” he told IWPR. “Basically, among Baku’s gays and lesbians there is no one even dreaming of demonstrations or parades.”

But such denials are insufficient for the radical clerics in neighboring Iran, whose radical clerics' delicate sensibilities can't countenance even the false rumor of a pride parade in a nearby country. Hossein Alizadeh, of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, released a statement yesterday explaining the situation:

... The possible gay parade in Azerbaijan is particularly troubling for the religious establishment in Iran, given the fact that over 85% of the Azeri population follow Shiite Islam, making Azerbaijan -along with Bahrain, Iran and Iraq- one of the few countries with Shiite majority ... the Ayatollahs in Iran see the possible gay parade in a neighboring Shiite country as a declaration of cultural war against all Shiites. A combination of religious bonds, historic ties -- Azerbaijan was part of Iran till early 18th century, when Tehran lost the territory to an expanding Russian empire -- and linguistic commonality -- one third of Iranians speak Azeri -- has sparked a national anxiety over the imminent gay parade in Baku.

The latest wave of official statements against the gay parade came on Friday, during the Friday Prayers Service in Tabriz, the historical seat of Azeri culture and the center of Iran's Azeri population. During today's service, the prominent Shiite clergyman and a personal representative of Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Mohsen Mojtahed Shabestari accused the government of Azerbaijan of Islamophobia, "which is demonstrated in their policies such as the ban of headscarf for women, and imposing limits on religious missionary work." Ayatollah Shabestari claimed that Eurovision pursues an anti-Islamic agenda: "the situation in Azerbijan is so bad that the rulers are wasting public funds to throw a party that is requested by anti-Islamic forces... more outrageously is the gay parade that they are planning to organize...this dance party and the parade [attract] all sorts of anti-Islamic groups and perverts... While many countries do not allow perverts and fags to hold a rally, the rulers of dominantly Shiite Azerbaijan have allowed for this unethical event to take place... I want to ask them 'what has happened to your Islamic honor and why have you turned into play toys in the hands of Zionists?'" The Friday Imam ended his comments by publicly denouncing the leadership of the Republic of Azerbaijan, cursing the organizing of the parade, and "warning the Baku government to cancel the gay parade or else expect widespread demonstration and public anger in the next few days." (

Earlier, the radical Ansar-Hizbullah group in Tabriz sent and open letter to the Presidents of Iran and Azerbaijan, blaming the gay parade on Israel and threatening to capture the Azerbaijan's mission in Tabriz if the parade ever takes place ( ) Media reports also indicates conservative groups in Azerbaijan are equally unhappy about the possible gay parade in their country ( In recent days, Iranian media have reported extensively on the negative sentiments in Azerbaijan against the gay parade (

Of course, the radical clerics are correct. The Eurovision Song Contest, and the cosmopolitanism it represents, really is a threat to the small and circumscribed worlds of extremist religion. That's why people like it. 

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  1. That wasn't the brightest thing to do. Maybe giving a little bit of thought to a matter before publishing it would be a good idea for any publication.

    Posted by: happyday | Apr 28, 2012 9:41:25 AM

  2. For's a beheading.

    Posted by: Alan | Apr 28, 2012 11:07:14 AM

  3. A rumour of a parade is enough to get these idiots all worked up? How pathetic.

    Posted by: jim | Apr 28, 2012 12:42:38 PM

  4. Nothing harder than trying to close all the holes in the globalized world that we live in today. It is a strainer and they don't want to realize it. They are afraid and must be if they want to keep their wild country in the middle ages, but gays are the least of their threats, even if they deem it as the ugliest.

    Posted by: SayTheTruth | Apr 28, 2012 1:01:14 PM

  5. We need to make ghettos for all the fringe extremist groups to live in.

    Posted by: ophu | Apr 28, 2012 2:22:03 PM

  6. And yes, that last comment was pure snark.

    Posted by: ophu | Apr 28, 2012 2:25:25 PM

  7. Well, Eurovision in itself is a Gay Parade (The biggest in the wolrd, in words of the 2009 winner), but cleverly disguised as a music event.

    Posted by: Nirgal | Apr 28, 2012 7:18:14 PM

  8. Why have the Ayatollahs got their knickers in knots? Didn't president Ahmadinejad famously declare "there are no homosexuals in Iran" ergo no threat of a parade?

    Posted by: DiCKster | Apr 28, 2012 8:12:03 PM

  9. You beat me to it, Nirgal. Spot on!

    Posted by: Max | Apr 29, 2012 9:05:52 AM

  10. Dumb idiots, I can't believe these diseased morons got a hold of such a beautifully rich country as Iran. I look forward to the day that this disease is knocked off the face of the earth.

    Posted by: Mike | Jul 14, 2012 10:22:33 PM

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