Farsad and Farnam:
Because of the pain after the lashings, they could not
Arsham Parsi is a Iranian gay activist now living in Toronto
from where he runs the IRanian Queer Organization (IRQO).
TORONTO, June 21, 2007 – I have
always wondered if keeping silent about the status quo can lead to peace of
mind, or whether a scream in protesting the misery caused by certain events
is a more logical response.
Despite the heterogeneity of
Iranian society in general, and Iranian queer community in particular,
sometimes the oppressive events of the day force us to action.
Though a small number of sexual
minorities in Iran do not have any problem with police, security and their
families, they are the exception. There are still many in the Iranian LGBT
community who are struggling with huge hardships due to family interference
and government oppression.
The almost daily news of the
arrest, humiliation, and torture of Iranian LGBT community members enrages
me, and I am concerned by the reaction of our community as it deals with
horrifying murders and savage executions committed in the name of “the law”.
Generally speaking, the reaction
from the Iranian community at large falls into two camps: those who feel
that organisational activity and resistance by the Iranian LGBT community
would provoke a strong government reaction, which in turn could lead to an
international reaction against Iran as a whole, and those who seek a return
of their full civil rights.
The difference between the first
and second group is that the second is not under pressure from the
government due to their sexual orientation.
I believe they can be asked to
demonstrate for our full civil rights, as well. This crucial point could
inspire us to express ourselves and demand what we want, instead of keeping
During the last few months, Iran
has seen the brutal arrest and prosecution of women’s rights activists.
Concurrently, IRQO has encouraged the queer community and its supporters to
begin petitions and seek popular support.
Interestingly, these people were
not anxious about an international military action against the Iranian
regime due to human rights violations. I signed all their petitions,
because I believe human rights are for everybody, not for one particular
In spite of this, my name and those
of other activists were erased from those lists due to concerns about the
general situation in Iran.
I make no comment on the pictures
on this page.
The two [men] are homosexual and
they have been prosecuted because of their sexual orientation.
There is no disputing this as we
possess copies of their tribunal documents regarding the verdicts and
I ask you, should we keep silent?
Should we paint a false picture of their daily life situation?
Certainly silence is not an option.
Probably we should even be louder.
They received eighty lashes; I
doubt that I would be able to endure one. I admire their courage.
After receiving his punishment, one
of the men asked the person who implemented this barbaric sentence, whether
he felt closer to the god by this savagery or not.
The pictures were taken almost one
month ago, and a month after they’ve lashed. When I called them by phone of
the first day, they were not able to talk.
Because of the pain they could not
■ 60 lashes for attending a party
Farsad is 26 years old and Farnam
is 24, (their names have been changed to protect their identities, as they
have long been in contact with IRQO).
Their lives, like many, if not all
the other LGBTs in Iran, is miserable. Farsad lost his father at fifteen
and his mother re-married a revolutionary guard member (a military
organisation developed by the Iranian regime), which itself is a bitter
“Since childhood I could not find
any attraction to the opposite sex; yes of course I am a homosexual.” Farsad
At 21, in order to meet other
people like himself, he set up a successful weblog. The secret police found
his address through his IP and arrested him. He spent three weeks in
solitary confinement, and then he was accused of obscenity, advocating
decadent values and homosexuality.
They sentenced him to six month in
After completing his sentence he
suffered from depression and phobia about revealing his identity and going
back to prison, with symptoms so debilitating he was hospitalized. Then his
diary was found by his stepfather, who demanded Farsad denounce his
When Farsad resisted, his
step-father took him to Qom (a holly city in Iran, and a centre of
Ayatollahs) to be seen by the grand ayatollahs.
He spent a few nights in custody
and was humiliated by the security forces there. They threatened him with
stoning unless he denounced his homosexuality.
Traumatized by the threats, he was
then taken to see a grand ayatollah, where he signed his confession and
forgiveness plea. He was then returned to Tehran, where he received 95
lashes before being released.
Almost as an afterthought, he was
questioned by the supreme leader’s office in the university where he was
studying … and was expelled from school, as well.
Last winter, he met Farnam in a gay
chat room. After corresponding they moved in together to start life as a
couple, in disguise but together.
They invited a small group of their
friends to celebrate this union. Just fifteen minutes after the party
began, the police broke into their house and arrested everyone.
They were brutally beaten, says
Farsad, and then transported to a police detention centre. They spent the
entire Persian new year holidays in a prison cell.
“We were beaten to the point that
my spine hurt permanently; I still feel the pain caused by the fists
pounding my face”, Farsad says.
They were accused of advocating
decadency, homosexuality and prostitution.
Because they were arrested
together, the authorities insisted on more details about their relationship.
During the police interrogation,
they were asked: “Did you have sexual intercourse with each other?”
They did not admit to this
question, and eventually they were sentenced for having an improper
relationship, for which they received 80 lashes.
All other guests were released
conditionally and they were ordered to remain in the city and not get
in-touch with each other.
Two weeks before the implementation
of their sentence, those attending the party were arrested again and were
sentenced to 60 lashes each, which all received in the same day.
Farsad and Farnam were told that 80
lashes was just for holding the party , and that their sentence for the
improper relationship would be carried out later.
Under increasing pressure from
their families, and the government’s threat of reopening their older files,
which could lead to a possible death sentence, they decided to escape the
country, and now are waiting to be transferred to a safe, gay friendly
IRQO has been actively following
their case and is pursuing it in the United Nations High Commissioner for
We hope one day full civil rights
are granted to the LGBT community all over the world.
||On this website, you can make a
donation via PayPal to the work of IRQO to assist their work with gay
Iranians, especially those who have fled their country and are awaiting
UN refugee status and a country willing to offer refuge.
Photographs on this page are