Friday, December 02, 2005

Press Release: "Iran: Two More Executions for Homosexual Conduct" - Human Rights Watch

http://hrw.org/english/docs/2005/11/21/iran12072.htm

Iran: Two More Executions for Homosexual Conduct

(New York, November 22, 2005) – Iran’s execution of two men last week for homosexual conduct highlights a pattern of persecution of gay men that stands in stark violation of the rights to life and privacy, Human Rights Watch said today.
On Sunday, November 13, the semi-official Tehran daily Kayhan reported that the Iranian government publicly hung two men, Mokhtar N. (24 years old) and Ali A. (25 years old), in the Shahid Bahonar Square of the northern town of Gorgan.

The government reportedly executed the two men for the crime of "lavat." Iran’s shari`a-based penal code defines lavat as penetrative and non-penetrative sexual acts between men. Iranian law punishes all penetrative sexual acts between adult men with the death penalty. Non-penetrative sexual acts between men are punished with lashes until the fourth offense, when they are punished with death. Sexual acts between women, which are defined differently, are punished with lashes until the fourth offense, when they are also punished with death.

“The execution of two men for consensual sexual activity is an outrage,” said Jessica Stern, researcher with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. “The Iranian government’s persecution of gay men flouts international human rights standards.”

In addition to the two executions last week, there have been other cases of persecution and execution of gay men in Iran in recent years.

    • In September 2003, police arrested a group of men at a private gathering in one of their homes in Shiraz and held them in detention for several days. According to Amir, one of the men arrested, police tortured the men to obtain confessions. The judiciary charged five of the defendants with “participation in a corrupt gathering” and fined them.

    • In June 2004, undercover police agents in Shiraz arranged meetings with men through Internet chatrooms and then arrested them. Police held Amir, a 21-year-old, in detention for a week, during which time they repeatedly tortured him. The judicial authorities in Shiraz sentenced him to 175 lashes, 100 of which were administered immediately. Following his arrest, security officials subjected Amir to regular surveillance and periodic arrests. From July 2005 until he fled the country later in the year, police threatened Amir with imminent execution.

    • On March 15, 2005, the daily newspaper Etemaad reported that the Tehran Criminal Court sentenced two men to death following the discovery of a video showing them engaged in homosexual acts. According to the paper, one of the men confessed that he had shot the video as a precaution in case his partner withdrew the financial support he had been providing in return for sex. In response to the man’s confession, his partner was summoned to the authorities and both men were sentenced to death. As the death penalty was pronounced against both men, it appears to have been based on their sexual activity.

“These abuses have created an atmosphere of terror for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people throughout Iran,” said Stern. “But arrest, torture and execution are not limited to gays and lesbians. Any group of people deemed ‘immoral’ becomes subject to state-sanctioned persecution and even murder.”

In Iran, executions and lashings are regular means of punishment for a broad range of crimes, not merely same-sex acts. Judges often accept coerced confessions, and security officials routinely deny defendants access to counsel. Late last year, the Iranian judiciary, which has been at the center of many reported human rights violations, formed the Special Protection Division, a new institution that empowers volunteers to police moral crimes in neighborhoods, mosques, offices and any place where people gather. The Special Protection Division is an intrusive mechanism of surveillance that promotes prosecution of citizens for behavior in their private domain.

Human Rights Watch called upon the Iranian government to decriminalize homosexuality and reminded Iran of its obligations under Toonen v. Australia (1994), the Human Rights Committee’s authoritative interpretation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Iran is party. Toonen v. Australia extends recognition of the right to privacy and the right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation throughout human rights law.

Furthermore, Human Rights Watch urged Iran to reform its judiciary in accordance with principles for fair trials enshrined in both the Iranian constitution and international human rights law. Finally, Human Rights Watch called upon Iran to cease implementation of capital punishment in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty, irreversibility, and potential for discriminatory application.

News (UAE): "UAE ministry denies reports of hormone treatments for 'gay wedding' suspects" - WAM

http://search.gulfnews.com/nation/Government/10001542.html

UAE ministry denies reports of hormone treatments for 'gay wedding' suspects
11/30/2005 10:25 PM | WAM

Abu Dhabi: The Ministry of Interior has categorically denied reports appearing in a section of the media that 26 individuals who were held at an alleged gay wedding have been subjected to hormonal or any other treatments.

An official source at the ministry rejected the statement by the US State Department spokesman.

"They [the arrrested individuals] have not been treated with hormones or any other medicines," the spokesman said. "What has been reported in the local and international media is wholly inaccurate."

The source said any punishment or prescription of medicines is not the concern of the ministry.

?The judiciary is the sole competent authority that can act according to the laws and constitution of the country," he said. "Only the judiciary can issue appropriate rulings as per the UAE laws.

He added that the role of the ministry was to help the arrested individuals and its obligation ended there.

The source urged the media and other concerned parties to be accurate while disseminating news. Such information should be obtained through official channels, he said.

He also called on the media to refrain from exaggerating issues and publishing news without proof.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

News (UAE): "Hormone plan for 'gay wedding' men" - Reuters

http://www.news.com.au/story/print/0,10119,17413704,00.html
http://www.helem.net/uae.htm

Hormone plan for 'gay wedding' men
From correspondents in Dubai
30-11-2005
From: Reuters


MEN arrested at what a United Arab Emirates official said appeared to be a gay wedding were to be given hormone therapy, officials said.

The news brought condemnation from the US State Department, which urged the Muslim Gulf Arab state not to go ahead with such treatment.

The UAE Interior Ministry responded by saying the case was yet to be heard by courts.

Police raided a hotel earlier this month where 26 homosexuals of Asian, Arab and UAE origin were at a party.

At least 12 were dressed in women's clothes and wearing makeup at what an official said appeared to be a wedding celebration.

Police Colonel Najm al-Sayar said the foreigners were likely to be deported while the locals, who were being held in the capital Abu Dhabi, would undergo hormonal therapy – most likely testosterone.

"They will be given psychological, medical and sociological treatment. Some of them will be given male hormones because some actually took female hormones," Colonel Sayar said.

"This kind of behaviour is immoral in our society and so we must address the issue."

An unnamed UAE Interior Ministry official, quoted by the state news agency WAM, questioned the comments, saying the "ministry is not in a position to set the penalties or any treatment that may be imposed on those detained".

"Only the judiciary has the right under the constitution to hand down a ruling," the official said.

Homosexuality is forbidden by law in most Arab states.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack condemned the arrests, which it said were the latest in a string of detentions of homosexuals.

"We call on the Government of the United Arab Emirates to immediately stop any ordered hormone and psychological treatment and to comply with the standards of international law," he said.

News (UAE): "US condemns UAE gay men arrests" - Ahbab News

Tuesday, November 29, 2005
US condemns UAE gay men arrests

The US has condemned the arrests of 26 gay men during a raid on a party at a hotel in the United Arab Emirates earlier this month.

Washington also warned the UAE that any attempt to administer hormone or psychological treatment would break international law.

Police launched on Tuesday disciplinary proceedings against an officer who published photos taken during the raid, but did not respond to the criticism.

Police arrested 22 UAE men, one Indian, and three Arabs from neighbouring states at a hotel in Ghantut in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, the Interior Ministry said on Saturday.

The authorities said 12 of the men had been dressed in women's clothes and make-up in preparation for a gay wedding.

A police spokesman said the foreigners were likely to be deported, while the Emirati men could be given hormone therapy if they consent.

The BBC's Gulf correspondent, Julia Wheeler, says there is a suggestion that agreeing to such treatment could be used as a bargaining tool for a reduction in an individual's sentence.

US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said his government condemned both the arrests and government-ordered hormone and psychological treatment.

"We call on the government of the United Arab Emirates to immediately stop any ordered hormone and psychological treatment and to comply with the standards of international law," he said.

In the UAE there have been a number of cases of arrests of homosexuals in recent years, and a nightclub in Dubai was closed down for allowing an openly gay night to be held on its premises. One religious scholar has now called on parents to be vigilant of what he called "deviant" behaviour in their children.

Images of the suspects taken by a policeman on his mobile phone appeared in local newspapers shortly after the arrests. Lt Col Najm Abdullah al-Sayar said the police had launched disciplinary proceedings against the policeman.

"The officer photographed the young men with his mobile phone while they were being arrested and distributed the pictures," he said.

"He has infringed on the privacy of the people involved in the case and this is something that goes against the proper conduct of the police force. He is under investigation and may ultimately be expelled from the force."

News (UAE): "State Department Involvement in Condemning UAE Anti-Gay Arrests a Welcome Step" - Human Rights Campaign

For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2005

STATE DEPARTMENT INVOLVEMENT IN CONDEMNING UAE ANTI-GAY ARRESTS A WELCOME STEP

‘The State Department’s condemnation of these arrests and threats is an important component of resolving this atrocious episode,’ said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

WASHINGTON — The Human Rights Campaign praised the State Department for releasing a written statement condemning the United Arab Emirates’ arrest of two dozen individuals at a purported gay wedding and threats of forced psychological and hormonal treatment, according to news reports.

“The State Department’s condemnation of these arrests and threats is an important component of resolving this atrocious episode,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are in every country in this world and should be afforded the same dignity and respect that every human being deserves. The United States should support a resolution in front of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights acknowledging that sexual orientation and gender identity protections are part of internationally recognized human rights standards. Unfortunately, our government has not yet supported such a move.”

The State Department statement, which was released Nov. 28, called on “the government of the United Arab Emirates to immediately stop any ordered hormone and psychological treatment and to comply with the standards of international law.” Read the statement.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

http://www.hrc.org/Template.cfm?Section=Press_Room&CONTENTID=30073&TEMPLATE=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

News (UAE): "Policeman arrested over gay pictures" - GulfNews.com

http://search.gulfnews.com/nation/Society/10001280.html

Policeman arrested over gay pictures
From GulfNews.com - November 29, 2005
Staff Report

Abu Dhabi: A policeman suspected to have taken and distributed pictures of those arrested in connection with a gay wedding in Abu Dhabi has been taken into custody for questioning, an official said.

Lieutenant Colonel Najm Abdullah Al Hosani, Director of Community Police Department, said the General Directorate of Abu Dhabi Police has started interrogation of the suspect. "If found guilty, he would stand trial," Lt Col Al Hosni said.

More than 20 young men were arrested at the gay party in a chalet in Ghantout.

The Abu Dhabi General Directorate of Police said agents from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) arrested 26 men, some of who were dressed as women.
Half of the men, including UAE nationals, Arabs and Asians were dressed as women, with make-up and hairstyles, and the others were dressed in Arab attire."
The group had similar parties at hotels and chalets, and those dressed as women earned money as prostitutes.

On Monday UAE scholars and social experts denounced the "homosexual wedding," and stressed that such people should be punished by law.

According to Islamic Sharia Laws, a man who has intercourse with another man "should be executed", said Abdul Salam Mohammad Darwish, an Islamic scholar and social and family counsellor.

Darwish said, "It is scandalous. It is not part of the Islamic religion or UAE culture".

"Surely it was not the first time they met. They must have held parties and met in similar unacceptable and abnormal celebrations. There had been reports of similar incidents in other emirates," he said.

He warned against the increase in such deviant behaviour. "Some of the males who live an extravagant life became decadent," he said.

The counsellor urged the authorities to place those "sick men" in an intensive psychological and educational rehabilitation programme.

Colonel Najm Al Howsani, Director of Social Support Centre at Ministry of Interior, where the 26 men who had been arrested were referred to, said the suspects would undergo a psychological and physical therapy after the court rules into their case.

News (Iran): "Euro MP slams Iranian gay hangings" - Gay.com

http://uk.gay.com/headlines/9315

Euro MP slams Iranian gay hangings

GAY.COM

Tuesday 29 November, 2005

Pressure is growing on Iran, after reports of the hanging of more gay men.

MEP and gay activists Michael Cashman has written to Iran’s President to protest the killing of two men earlier this month.

Mokhtar N and Ali A were publicly hung for the “crime” of being gay, according to reports in the Iranian Daily Kayhan newspaper.

Their deaths follow the killing of two teenagers this summer, who were accused of having sex with each other.

Theses earlier hangings sparked international protests, with campaigners urging Iran to drop its anti-gay stance.

“It is hard to believe that in the 21st century, authorities can sanction the public murder of people for being gay. I totally and utterly condemn these terrible actions and I call upon President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to put a stop to these murderous practices,” Cashman said today.

The Labour MEP’s letter to President Ahmadinejad said the killings were “barbaric”.

“This inhumane and barbaric treatment of two consenting adults consists of a gross violation of their fundamental rights as recognised in International treaties,” Cashman wrote.

“Amongst many others these rights which have been violated include the right to life, the right to a private life, the right to a fair trial, and the right to non-discrimination.”

His comments were echoed by civil rights campaigners Human Rights Watch, which said the killing of gay men is an “outrage”.

“The Iranian government’s persecution of gay men flouts international human rights standards,” said Jessica Stern, researcher with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at HRW.

“These abuses have created an atmosphere of terror for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people throughout Iran,” said Stern. “But arrest, torture and execution are not limited to gays and lesbians.”

However, she warned that arrests and punishments were not limited to gay people.

“Any group of people deemed ‘immoral’ becomes subject to state-sanctioned persecution and even murder,” Stern said.

The public execution of two teenagers earlier this year caused widespread protests across the UK and Europe.

The case was given a high profile after photos of the hangings were circulated on the internet, sparking support for the campaign to rid Iran of its anti-gay laws from a range of celebrities and LGBT people.

Comments: Recent Events in the UAE

The statement that the Interior Ministry of UAE is considering the use of "male hormone treatments" to "direct men away from homosexual behavior" highlights the way in which a medico-psychological discourse is playing a stronger role in discussions of homosexuality (and human rights concerns related to gay rights abuses) in the region.

The Human Rights Watch report ("In a Time of Torture" - Scott Long) on the "Queens Boat" case in Egypt released in March 2004, included a section entitled "Bodies and Evidence: The Motives, and Medicine of Torture." In discussing the decision to pursue "anal examination," Dr. Ayman Fouda, the deputy director of the Forensic Medical Authority, references the work of Dr. Tardieu (a nineteenth-century forensic doctor):

“Habitual pederasty” was a secretive, internal tendency. Yet its very skill at occluding its existence drove Tardieu to seek signs which would make it “recognizable”: the “knowledge of which will permit the forensic doctor, in the great majority of cases, to direct with sureness the pursuits which involve public morality to such a high degree.”

I think that when you consider the information from the recent UAE case and "Queen Boat" case together, an evolving medical discourse seems to be of increasing concern to human rights (gay rights) advocacy in the region. [Sidenote: Something else I find interesting in this quotation (that references "public morality"), Long's discussion of "pressure of proof" and the "policing of urban space" - that I bring up later on in this posting - is the issues of the visibility. I think the privileging and the sexual politics of visibility are an important factor in understanding gay life in the region. I intend to pursue this topic in my research on contemporary homosexuality in Beirut, Lebanon.]

I would highly recommend Afsaneh Najmabadi's recent research on trans-sexuality in modern Iran; she argues that a confluence of psycho-medicalized discourse with particular Islamic notions (relating to 'true sex'), starting in the 1940s, has gained national dominance and is directly affecting the acceptability of trans-sexuality. (This research is forthcoming in an article in Social Analysis, Summer 2005 and her project entitled "Sexing Gender, Transing Homos: Travails of SExuality in Contemprary Iran.")

Of interest is Bruce Dunne's research on transformations of sexuality in modern Egypt. Discussing the surpervision and reform of prostituion and homosexual practices in Egypt, Dunne notes that "The mordernizing, interventionist state which arose in the 19th century deployed new, often European-insprired disciplinary measures... [that] led to a gradual shift from fiscal to medical regulation and stricter policing of urban spaces and forms of popular expression" (Dunne, Bruce. "Sexuality and the 'Civilizing Process' in Modern Egypt." Unpublished. 352: Georgetown University, 1996.)

News (UAE): "Forced Medical Treatment of UAE Homosexuals" - U.S. Department of State

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2005/57390.htm

Press Statement
Sean McCormack, Spokesman
Washington, DC
November 28, 2005

Forced Medical Treatment of UAE Homosexuals

The United States condemns the arrest of a dozen same-sex couples in the United Arab Emirates and a statement by the Interior Ministry spokesman that they will be subjected to government-ordered hormone and psychological treatment.

The arrest of these individuals is part of a string of recent group arrests of homosexuals in the UAE. We call on the government of the United Arab Emirates to immediately stop any ordered hormone and psychological treatment and to comply with the standards of international law.

2005/1111
Released on November 28, 2005

Related Stories:

News (UAE): "26 men arrested at mass gay marriage in Dubai" - Ahbab News (11/28)

News (UAE): "Scholars seek punishment for gays" - Gulf News (11/27)

News (UAE): "Gay newlyweds face penalties in Emirates" - Seattle Post-Intelligencer (11/25)

News (UAE): "Officials Lambaste Capital's Gay Party Youth" - Khaleej Times (11/25)

News (UAE): "Gay wedding 26 held" - Gulf Daily News (11/25)
http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=128447&Sn=WORL&IssueID=28253

News (UAE): "26 men arrested at mass gay marriage in Dubai" - Ahbab News

http://ahbab.blogspot.com/2005/11/26-men-arrested-at-mass-gay-marriage.html

Monday, November 28, 2005
26 men arrested at mass gay marriage in Dubai

More than two dozen gay Arab men face strict punishment after being arrested at what police in the United Arab Emirates described as a mass homosexual wedding.

They could be lashed, forced to undergo hormone treatments and jailed for five years, an Interior Ministry official said as he announced the arrests on Saturday.

Interior Ministry spokesman Issam Azouri said police detained 26 men during a raid earlier in the month as the wedding ceremony was about to begin in a hotel chalet in Dubai.

The country, which lies along the Persian Gulf between Saudi Arabia and Oman, has banned openly homosexual behaviour.

Azouri said the men would probably be tried under Muslim law on charges related to prostitution and adultery, the Associated Press reported.

There have been a series of similar group arrests of homosexuals over the past few years in the United Arab Emirates.

The Interior Ministry said the latest detentions stemmed from a tip-off to police.

The arrested men were mostly from the Emirates but one came from India and three others were from neighbouring Arab countries, Azouri said.

posted by QArab at 5:38 PM

Related Stories:
News (UAE): "Scholars seek punishment for gays" - Gulf News (11/27)

News (UAE): "Gay newlyweds face penalties in Emirates" - Seattle Post-Intelligencer (11/25)

News (UAE): "Officials Lambaste Capital's Gay Party Youth" - Khaleej Times (11/25)

"Gay wedding 26 held" - Gulf Daily News (11/25)
http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/Story.asp?Article=128447&Sn=WORL&IssueID=28253

Sunday, November 27, 2005

News (UAE): "Scholars seek punishment for gays" - Gulf News

http://www.gulfnews.com/nation/Society/10000989.html

Scholars seek punishment for gays
By Bassam Za'za' and Shireena Al Nowais, Staff Reporters

Dubai, Abu Dhabi: UAE scholars and social experts denounced the recent attempt to hold what security authorities called "a mass homosexual wedding," and stressed that such people should be punished by law.

According to Islamic Sharia Laws, a man who has intercourse with another man "should be executed", said Abdul Salam Mohammad Darwish, an Islamic scholar and social and family counsellor.

Denouncing the alleged gay wedding party that took place in one of the hotels in Ghantout, Darwish said, "It is scandalous. It is not part of the Islamic religion or UAE culture".

"Surely it was not the first time they met. They must have held parties and met in similar unacceptable and abnormal celebrations. There had been reports of similar incidents in other emirates," he said.

He warned against the increase in such deviant behaviour. "Some of the males who live an extravagant life became decadent," he said.

The counsellor urged the authorities to place those "sick men" in an intensive psychological and educational rehabilitation programme.

Colonel Najm Al Howsani, Director of Social Support Centre at Ministry of Interior, where the 26 men who had been arrested were referred to, said the suspects would undergo a psychological and physical therapy after the court rules into their case.

He added: "According to the Islamic Sharia, the suspects won't be let go unpunished, if proven guilty, and society disapproves and resents such behaviour."

Dr Saif Bin Rashid Al Gaberi, the Director of Ifta'a and Researches Administration at the Dubai Department of Islamic affairs and Charitable Activities, said it is an immoral and "abnormal" behaviour.

"It is not a new phenomenon in many other religions and cultures. It rarely happens in Muslim societies. It happens particularly when religious and social education weakens and the individual's religious deterrent becomes non-existent," he said.

He said society was also responsible for the deviant behaviour of the men.

"The responsibility falls primarily on fathers for failing to bring up their children as God-fearing, and secondly on their mothers who saw their sons behave like a woman but failed to stop them," he said.

"This is what happens when schools and parents neglect children. The openness and technological advancements sometimes lead to such deplorable acts."

Nevertheless, he expected the trend to increase "due to the ill-mannered openness, lack of social restrictions and straying from path shown by God."

What the penal code says

- Anyone convicted of committing a lewd or indecent act in public would be sentenced to a six-month term in jail.

- Anyone convicted of shouting, singing or saying invectives in public, or anyone convicted of seducing others to commit adultery, would be sentenced to a jail term that would not exceed six months, and to be fined not more than Dh5,000 or both.

- Any person who makes advances to a male or female or attempts to seduce or commit any lewd acts would be sentenced to not less than a year and fined. If the victim is under the age of 18, the accused would be imprisoned for no less than two years and be fined.

- Any person convicted of setting up or running a prostitution den, or assisting anyone else in setting it up or running it, shall be imprisoned temporarily.

The prostitution den shall be closed down and shall not be opened except if the prostitution activity is changed and an approval is obtained from the Public Prosecution.

What happened

More than 20 young men were recently arrested at a gay party in a chalet in Ghantout. The Abu Dhabi General Directorate of Police said agents from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) arrested 26 men, some of who were dressed as women.

Half of the men, including UAE nationals, Arabs and Asians were dressed as women, with make-up and hairstyles, and the others were dressed in Arab attire."

The group had similar parties at hotels and chalets, and those dressed as women earned money as prostitutes.

The police source said the party might have been a 'wedding' party. "To our knowledge, this is the first time that a gay wedding has been [attempted to be] held in the UAE."

A similar incident may have occurred a few months ago in one the northern emirates when more than five men were reported to have been arrested for attending a gay wedding ceremony. The news could not be independently confirmed.