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Iranian Government Report Finds 17% of Students Surveyed Say They're Gay

A new Iranian public survey on sex and sexuality revealed some surprising stats about the deeply religious and culturally conservative Islamic Republic, The Economist reports:

IranAn 82-page document recently issued by Iran’s parliamentary research department is stark in its findings. Not only are young adults sexually active, with 80% of unmarried females having boyfriends, but secondary-school pupils are, too. Illicit unions are not just between girls and boys; 17% of the 142,000 students who were surveyed said that they were homosexual. [...]

The report is also a rare official admission of the unspoken accord in Iran: people can do what they want so long as it takes place behind closed doors. Parliament’s researchers, on this occasion, were allowed to say the unsayable.

Addressing the premarital sex taking place between heterosexuals, Parliament's researchers suggest they should be allowed to publicly register their union using sigheh, an ancient practice in Shia Islam that allows people to temporarily marry. 

Homosexuality in Iran, meanwhile, continues to be legally punishable with imprisonment, torture and execution.

Back in 2007, Iran's then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asserted that: "In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals"

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  1. why am I not shocked of that stat...? because they live in such a strigent / segrated society...it's bound to spill over into everyday life,and interactions...Religion is the REAL poison of mankind.

    Posted by: Disgusted American | Aug 11, 2014 7:53:53 AM

  2. While I always hope for the best (in this case, that Iran will take the enlightened path and see, "wow! homosexuality hasn't hurt our nation or society at all!"), I think we should watch for some effort at suppression, a shocked and predictable response from religious zealots in that nation.

    Posted by: Chuck Mielke | Aug 11, 2014 8:45:48 AM

  3. Remember when Iran then-President said 'There are no gays in Iran'?


    Yeah, rightttttttttttttttttttt

    Posted by: Moniker | Aug 11, 2014 8:58:27 AM

  4. Teenagers punking adults on surveys again.

    Posted by: Qj201 | Aug 11, 2014 9:14:04 AM

  5. So let me get this straight...they do a survey and discover that lots of unmarried people are in relationships and having sex, which is against their religion. So then they suddenly come up with some ancient rule that essentially allows for serial monogomy, if not actual one-night-stand hookups. Well...isn't that convenient. I wonder what it would take for them to do a little more "research" and, suddenly, find some rule that allows homosexuality.

    Posted by: Jere | Aug 11, 2014 9:29:27 AM

  6. I'm very skeptical about Iran actually carrying out this report. When they had students fill it out.. Does it give them a sense of anonymity? I would think a lot of others lied about their results in fear of getting discovered and exposed.

    Posted by: MickyFlip | Aug 11, 2014 10:16:26 AM

  7. A lot of people have same-sex sex in such countries because of the strict gender segregation. They aren't necessarily gay but will take any sex they can get.

    Posted by: Steve | Aug 11, 2014 10:39:21 AM

  8. " So then they suddenly come up with some ancient rule that essentially allows for serial monogomy, if not actual one-night-stand hookups. Well...isn't that convenient. I wonder what it would take for them to do a little more "research" and, suddenly, find some rule that allows homosexuality. "

    The rule is ancient, but it has been in use for decades (and perhaps never stopped being used). They're just talking about extending it to young people.

    It doesn't take much research to find that Persian culture, even under Islam, held same-sex sexual relationships in high esteem. The mullahs anti-gay attitudes are more a reflection of anti-Westernism than cultural tradition. It's a pity they can't or won't see that.

    Posted by: BobN | Aug 11, 2014 11:49:19 AM

  9. Rick Perry for President! Of Iran!

    Posted by: Talibanita Perry | Aug 11, 2014 12:08:26 PM

  10. My guess is that many of the poll responders said they were gay to make a political point - especially given statements like there are no gays in Iran. Iranian culture was very western and culturally liberal before the fall of the shah. That culture didn't just die the next day.

    Posted by: Markt | Aug 11, 2014 12:21:05 PM

  11. This is my favorite quote from the linked article:

    “This is what every human body needs,” says Zahra, a 32-year-old chemist who lives with her boyfriend in northern Tehran and declares that she has no intention of seeking authorisation to have sex. “I have one life and though I love my country, I cannot wait for its leaders to grow up,” she adds.

    Replace 'country' with state/community/church/family and then view that quote through our community's struggle. Love is love.

    Posted by: neonzx | Aug 11, 2014 1:56:31 PM

  12. I know very little about Iran, but I'm very skeptical of its government, which seems to be the source of the report. Hence, my gut reaction to the improbable 17% cohort (though maybe that includes anyone who's had a same-sex encounter) is that the report was manufactured to discredit the student population it claims to represent by painting them as immoral (by fundamentalist Islamic standards). It was students who nearly pulled off a revolution during the 2009 elections, and they are probably an ongoing threat to Iran's theocracy.

    Posted by: JJ | Aug 11, 2014 4:34:59 PM

  13. I think JJ is right about this. It's manipulation of a survey for the point of scare-mongering. There was something similar recently in another country, but I'm drawing a blank!

    Posted by: EchtKultig | Aug 11, 2014 5:13:05 PM

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