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Iranian homosexuals are excluded, even abroad

By Yek Irani
September 16, 1999
The Iranian

It is rare to find Iranian individuals and organizations that tolerate or accept homosexuals. Montreal's Gay Pride parade last August was an obvious example of the Iranian apathy.

The parade witnessed a tiny number of Iranians in the midst of a sea of self-assertion. Although Montreal hosts a fairly large Iranian community, it is disappointing to see that there is very little sympathy with the cause of Iranian gays and lesbians.

It is no secret that the Iranian society is afflicted with homophobia. And it is unfortunate that this intolerant attitude still exists among the Iranian community in Canada and elsewhere outside of Iran.

The irony is that the world is gazing on the struggle of Iranians for democracy, human rights and freedom. But this struggle excludes the rights of homosexuals as they are not seen as part of the human race.

It is often pointed out by experts in the field of Iranian studies that various regimes have suppressed minorities. One can hardly disagree with that. But between these lines there hides a bitter reality that must be mentioned.

The Iranian community of Montreal is homophobic not because of any tyrannical regime but on its own free will. It practices homophobia through the politics of intimidation.

It makes one wonder what is the true root of oppression? The origins must be sought out in order to cure the larger homophobia, particularly the kind which threatens the safety of gays and lesbians of Iranian origin. Iranian-Canadian gays and lesbians wonder whether they will ever be safe, accepted and respected for who they are.

As humanity enters a new millennium, one is urged to expose old prejudices. In the age of information and social progress it is inhuman to show so little knowledge regarding sexuality -- the most basic inborn human instinct.

Iran is known for its many philosophers and mystics, hermetic guides and enchanting poetry. It has a world class archive of esoteric knowledge of the human spirit. And yet it is tragic that within its cathedrals of thought and contemplation some elements of humanity are not welcomed.

In our time zone Iranian culture displays an extreme form of schizophrenia where on one hand it ennobles the earth and the heavens, shades and shapes, colors and tones, and yet it is disgusted with the most beautiful creation of all - the human body.

Contemporary Iran has shown very little sympathy for the humanist world. The Iranian mind is still interested in a world where humans are branded with the grave sin of existence. From the poetry of the mystics to the whirling drum beats, there has been a consistent homoerotic subtext buried deep in the folk memory of Iranians.

Today that memory is forgotten and replaced with a vulgar prejudice typical of the anger of a mob. In this juncture the question is what should be done? The answer is very clear: Zero tolerance for homophobia.

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