Iran Hub

HBO's VICE to Look at Struggles Faced by Gays and Transsexuals in Iran Tonight: VIDEOS


Tonight at 11PM on HBO's VICE, the newsmagazine series looks at the struggles faced by gays and transsexuals in Iran.

The following preview clips look at the lashings faced by those breaking Iran's strict laws and VICE correspondent Thomas Morton with Arsham Parsi, founder of the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees, as they visit World Pride in Canada.

Writes VICE in the promo:

Post-revolution Iran is notorious for its religiosity: when Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979 he enforced strict Islamic custom that made homosexuality punishable by death. Surprisingly, though, the state treats transsexuals differently, allowing sexual reassignment surgery and in some cases even paying for it. It’s become so widespread there, in fact, that Iran is now one of the world capitals for the procedure.

But the fatwa allowing the surgery has a grim drawback: families, therapists, and the state see gender reassignment as a solution to the “illness” of homosexuality—not understanding the risks of forcing the long, life-changing process of a sex change on someone who wasn't born wanting it. Gay Iranians now face the agonizing choice of fleeing their communities or permanently changing who they are.

Watch the clips, AFTER THE JUMP....


Continue reading "HBO's VICE to Look at Struggles Faced by Gays and Transsexuals in Iran Tonight: VIDEOS" »

Jon Stewart on the Republican 'Traitors' Trying to Undermine Obama's Nuclear Deal with Iran: VIDEO


Jon Stewart last night took a look at the letter sent to Iran by 47 Republican senators meant to undermine a potential nuclear deal with the Obama administration. The NY Daily News went so far as to dub them "traitors" on its front page.

But is Congressional subversion vis-a-vis foreign policy a wholly Republican concept? Well, that's not quite the case. What appears to be true, however, is that Congress and the President seem to both prefer working with the Ayatollah than with each other.


Continue reading "Jon Stewart on the Republican 'Traitors' Trying to Undermine Obama's Nuclear Deal with Iran: VIDEO" »

A Rare Glimpse Into Iran's Underground Gay Community

IranWhen then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared in 2007 that there were no gay people in Iran, he was correct in one sense. Because homosexuality is illegal and punishable by imprisonment, torture or execution, the idea of someone living their life openly gay in Iran is unheard of. 

But of course Ahmadinejad was wrong in that there are plenty of gay Iranians living in the shadows. It's just that the government chooses to ignore them — at least until it doesn't. 

And while we often hear about LGBT Iranians who've fled the country, what about those who choose to stay or can't afford to leave? 

In a story published Tuesday, Vocativ offers a compelling look at Iran's underground gay community through the eyes of three of its members: a 25-year-old single man who recently had the courage to come out to his parents, and two men in their early 30s who are in a relationship, albeit a very secretive one.  

It's a story of private parties whose hosts must pay off the country's moral police, and of wealthy married men who live parallel lives and cruise parks for young male prostitutes.

From Vocativ

Gays from lower classes and rural areas, where stigmatization is often most severe, rarely have the ability to move out of the house before marriage, let alone leave the country. Even in more affluent communities in cities. there is generally little acceptance of homosexuality, but some middle- and upper-class Iranians have the means to create parallel lives, out of sight of their relatives or friends. These people—men like Saeed—are the lucky ones.

“Ninety-five percent of gays in Iran will never come out,” Saeed says over pasta at one of northern Tehran’s coffee shops, where the atmosphere is relatively permissive. For all his friends who have dared, coming out has been a traumatic experience; parents lock their children inside the house, confiscate their phones and laptops, and force them to seek therapy.

Even "the lucky ones" like Saeed live in constant fear — "We are all so fucking scared," he told Vocativ. The Iranian government keeps extensive intelligence files on its citizens and presumably monitors gay apps like Grindr. But an even bigger threat to gay Iranians can be blackmail by other citizens who find out. 

The pressure is so intense in Iran that many gay men choose to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Being transgender is acceptable in Iran, where more people undergo GRS than in any other country except Thailand. 

Meanwhie, the country's HIV rate has increased nine-fold over the last 10 years, and 70 percent don't know they're infected.    

Still, there are signs of hope. 

A recent government study found that 17 percent of young adults in Iran said they were gay. And the government has begun to at least acknolwedge their existence — even if it's through backward policies like a ban on military service for those who can prove it.  

Hossein Alizadeh, of the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, told Vocativ: 

“There’s a new generation of people who are more tolerant of these issues. But at the end of the day, it only takes one person to destroy your life.”

And in some cases, "destroy your life" can mean literally.    

Read Vocativ's full story here

Grindr Addresses Security Breach, Rolls Out Easily Bypassed Patch: VIDEO


Grindr’s administrators temporarily disabled the popular hookup app’s location-awareness features yesterday afternoon following widespread concerns about a security exploit that exposed 600,000 users’ exact locations worldwide regardless of their privacy settings. The flaw in Grindr’s infrastructure allowed anyone, including people not using the service on a phone or tablet, to triangulate a specific users precise location by pinging Grindr’s servers. Though popularly thought to be a predominantly western app, Grindr boasts a global userbase of over 6 million people, many of whom are logging on from within countries with explicitly homophobic laws.

After discovering the potential security breach, an anonymous European Grindr user took to demonstrating just how easy it was to parse out other users’ personal information. Despite being alerted to the problem, Grindr’s developers initially responded to the backlash by asserting that the application was merely functioning the way it was meant to.

The sudden shutdown of the app’s location functionality was seemingly meant to address the bug. However, hours after users were able to seek one another out from their phones, America Blog’s John Aravosis easily found other users in Brunei, Russia, and Iran. This raises particular concerns in light of a slew of Grindr-assisted arrests in Egypt. Rather than fully patching the problem, Grindr’s development team has implemented a series of roadblocks:

"It appears, according to the anonymous Grindr user who uncovered the security breach, that Grindr is blocking the IP address of anyone attempting to find the exact location of its users. (Grindr is also requiring you to register a new account before massively [violating] the privacy of their users.) But if Grindr thinks this is a sufficient fix, they might want to have a chat with the following gay men I just found in Tehran and Brunei. All you have to do, apparently, is create a new IP address and a new account, and voila, you’re in."

It is important to note that Grindr users who disable their location sharing from within the app should be protected from the break.

Watch a video demonstrating the Grindr security breach AFTER THE JUMP...

UPDATE: Grindr has issued a statement on the security concerns:

"In light of recent security allegations surrounding a user’s specific location, Grindr has made modifications to no longer show distance information for users.  Grindr will continue to make ongoing changes to keep all users secure, as necessary."

Continue reading "Grindr Addresses Security Breach, Rolls Out Easily Bypassed Patch: VIDEO" »

Two Iranian Men Reportedly Hanged For Being Gay

6a00d8341c730253ef01a73dff95a7970d-200wiThe Daily Beast reports that two Iranian men, Abdullah Ghavami Chahzanjiru and Salman Ghanbari Chahzanjiri, were hanged on August 6th, according to at least one report, for “consensual sodomy." Another report is not as specific about the crimes committed by these men but names them as “immoral villains.” Should it be proved that Chahzanjiru and Chahzanjiri were killed for being gay, the tragic event would only further propel the existing narrative that Iran doles out draconian punishments for its gay citizenry

In his piece in The Daily Beast, Jay Michaelson points out that this latest human rights infraction comes as the U.S. is seeking to “engage” Iran diplomatically as tensions continue to escalate in neighboring Iraq due to the emergence of I.S.I.S. and the subsequent unraveling of now ex-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s government. Interestingly enough, however, is who amongst this country’s political elite have taken up the mantle of activist humanitarians where the rights of LGBT Iranians are concerned. Michaelson writes:

In the topsy-turvy world that is international LGBT politics, Iran’s record on homosexuality is more a conservative cause than a liberal one…When Iran persecutes gay people, conservatives in the United States suddenly become enamored of gay rights—and bash the Obama administration for not doing enough to defend them. Thus the administration is hit from all sides—at a moment in which it is trying to pursue its dicey diplomatic agenda.

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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