Farsad and Farnam

Couple lashed for being gay


Farsad and Farnam
by Arsham Parsi

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 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (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 organizational 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 silent. During the last few months, Iran has seen the brutal arrest and prosecution of women's rights activists.

Concurrently, Iranian Queer Organization (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 group. 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.

There is no comment on the following pictures. The two 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 their verdicts and sentences.

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 laouder. They received eighty lashes; I doubt that I would be able to endure one. I admire their courage. After getting his punishment, one of the men asked the person who executed this barbaric sentence, whether he felt closer to the god by this savagery or not. These pictures were taken in May (2007), and a month after the lashing. When I called them by phone of the first day, they were not able to talk. Because of the pain they could not even sleep.

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 IROQ). 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 organism developed by the Iranian regime), which itself is a bitter story. "since childhood I could not find any attraction to the opposite sex; yes of course I am a homosexual." Farsad says.

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 prison. 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 homosexuality.

When Farsad resisted, his step-father took him to Qom (a holly city in Iran, and a center of Ayatollahs) to be seen by the grand ayatollahs; He spent a few nights in custody, 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 center. 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 wiht each other.

Two weeks before the execution of their sentence, the party attendees 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 executed 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 country. IRQO has been actively following their case and is pursuing it in the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. We hope one day full civil rights are granted to the LGBT community all over the world.

Arsham Parsi, Executive Director, Iranian Queer Organization - IRQO, www.irqo.net, (formerly Persian Gay & Lesbian Organization - PGLO).



I am 100% pro-gay rights and

by babookooroo (not verified) on

I am 100% pro-gay rights and believe genetics play a role in one's sexual orientation, but I believe time will show the following to be true:

There is a SPECTRUM of homosexuality. I feel there is a little homosexuality in everyone, which can be amplified through one's environment. For example, men who have sexual relations with another man in prison would never or prefer not to have sex with a man outside of prison. Humans are social animals.


Life is sacred

by Speak Up (not verified) on

Life is sacred. It is all about worth and dignity of each person. Above all, happiness and well being of that person should come to mind. This argument is valid as long as it does not harm happiness and well being of others. So, gays and lesbians must be tolerable.

If you can not tolerate them, then I suggest replacing your hatred with love. This love not only frees you, but it also frees others.

Islam can not offer love. It is a cult with so much hate written all over it. Consider it dead. Islam’s God is very savage. Be spiritual


The Lifestyle

by Kamangir on

Lifestyle is private and should be respected as long as it respects others. The problem with ISLAM is that is in fact the way of life of the Arabic tribes in the Arabic peninsula some 1700 years ago. It's the code of conduct to regulate that type of existence in the harsh conditions of the desert. Do not forget how it was imposed on other nations, specially in persia. The retrograde, backwards mentality of those tribes shouldn't be imposed on other human beings. And let's not forget that the real represntation of Islam (Islam by the book) was and is the one displayed by the Taliban, Whabis of Arabia and elsewhere and the Hezbolah. Did you know that during the last months of the taliban rule in Afghanistan the taliban wanted all horses and donkies to wear a sort of underwear so women wouldn't see that part of the animal, as it might 'tempt' them? because of this alleged temptetaion, our women in Iran are not allowed to soccer stadiums, the buses are segregated (recently the metro too) and so on so forth.... for someone living in the west and saying that the problem is with the homosexuality, it's just ludicrous.



I agree that the IRI have

by Kashef (not verified) on

I agree that the IRI have gone too far in many cases. They meddle in iranian private lives and unfortunately have already killed some youth because of being homosexual. And that is indeed horrifying and terrible injustice.

However, the pictures that are put here for the lashings do not seem authentic. I am sorry to say but I've seen lashed backs and the impact is far worse and less organized than these images.

Use the right device to prove a good point and make your voice heard.


- Islam as always is the

by Khanum Hana777 (not verified) on

- Islam as always is the problem. But so are other religions that crush individuality and nature in the name of God.

- Culture is another problem. We are so full of fear of everything that we cannot accept difference.

- Look at the fake MD's comments. What does homosexuality have to do with being promiscuous? Straights sleep around plenty.

- However!!!!! Just as women can't go around in bikinis in Iran, just as men can't go around wearing shorts and no shirts, gays have to be careful too. If you know you might be arrested, don't be obvious. Don't have gatherings bla bla bla. Is it fair? no. But as you illustrate in your article, it is a matter of life and death! No one in that place is free and many things can get you the stoning sentence...

- If I were gay and living in Iran, I would renounce and apologize, sign forms and go to Qom. But at the end of the day, I would continue my life in secret (no other choice). That is the biggest F U you could give them.


Har ke tavoos khahad jore hendostan keshad.

by Irooni (not verified) on

Khob digeh az ghadim o nadim goftand ke, subject o bebin.



by Fred (not verified) on

Islam's respect for “private sphere” might very well exist in some imaginary outer galaxy. But, here on planet Earth and now and ever since its inception and according to its rule book Koran that is not the case. For confirmation of Islam’s intrusion in even the bedroom check out the verses in the Al-Nesaa’(women). It’s prescription for how one must relieve himself is yet another shining example of Islam’s total and absolute lack of regard for any “private sphere”.


Respect thier dignity

by faribors maleknasri M:D. (not verified) on

and they are supposed to respect the public. every body can do what he wants but behind locked doors und closed curtains. One must agree and approve the opinion, that th homo is a matter of gens and no punishment will change the Genmap. If these individuals only could learn not to bother the public and the others whith their inclination. If they are successfull with this learning which is at no cost easy - so i mean - they will succeed in thier life. Many Greetings


The problem is (NOT) islam, but the homosexulity

by faribor maleknasri M.D. (not verified) on

The private sphere in islam is - as a part of humanrights - protected. So is the public also protected. Every body can plan his private life so as he will it. But the public life belongs to the public. I read now, that the gays want to leave iran for a guyfriendly country. the danger is: They will there - in this guyfriendly country - get in touch with new guys and forget eachother. The promiscuity is the natur of homosexuality inherent. Please accept my greetings


Push the obstacle aside

by Kamangir on

The problem once again is Islam, as usuall crushes, smashes, any reason, logic or any voice contrary to itself. We need to push this Islam aside.






by Speak Up (not verified) on

Iranians are obligated to get education about these groups. IT IS NOT A LIFE STYLE OF CHOICE. They are individuals with different designed genetics at birth. They dictate no control over their own delivery.

Being civilized is not having a degree, driving a nice car and living in a nice home. It is a state of mind about rights, happiness, and well being of others. We all need to respect their dignities.


That's Horrible

by L.J (not verified) on

My god, that's horrible, my heart goes out to them. They are brave young men and I really hope they find happiness.

Sexuality is not really a choice that you make, it is often what you are born with and for them to be punished like that makes me very angry.

I really hope they escape to a better country and find true happiness together.