July 3 2014 | For the first time ever, 6Rang Network facilitated the organizational presence of Iranian LGBT community and launched a groundbreaking report on state-sponsored medical abuse of its community in Iran at the largest Pride in a Muslim country.
Istanbul Pride 2014 was attended by thousands of participants from around the globe including Iran. For the Iranian LGBT community, particularly 6Rang Network, this is the most important Pride. The annual event takes place in Turkey, in a Muslim country in the region, and the home to thousands of Iranian LGBT asylum seekers. Turkey shares cultural and geographic boundaries with neighboring Iran where, unlike Turkey, homosexuality is criminalized and punishable by death.
The new report, as part of 6Rang and JFI’s joint campaign “No To Forced Sex Change,” was launched on Thursday 26 June 2014 with a panel presenting in Farsi, English and Turkish. Expert panelists included LGBT rights champion, Shadi Amin; JFI legal researcher, Raha Bahraini, and Roma, a representative of LAMBDA. More than one hundred participants and media representatives from Iran, Turkey, Italy, and Portugal attended the launch of the new report.Pathologizing Identities, Paralyzing Bodies: Human Rights Violations against Lesbian, Gay and Transgender People in Iran analyses abusive practices through a human rights framework by placing them in the wider context of violence and discrimination that shape the lives of sexual and gender minorities in Iran. It details how lesbian, gay and transgender individuals in Iran are diagnosed with gender identity “disorders” and forced to undergo medical treatments, including sterilization, to “cure” themselves of homosexual feelings and cross-gender expressions.
In addition, on Sunday 29 June, through 6Rang Network the first ever organizational presence of Iranian LGBTs in a pride march took place. Their strong participation and clear slogans including: “Homosexuality is not an illness, homosexuality is feared by those who suffer from illness” or “We are everywhere! In Iran, in Turkey, in Iraq, get used to us!” sent a clear message to the Islamic Republic.“The goal of our report and campaign is to shed light on the illusive ‘paradox’ of access to state-sponsored sex change policies on the one hand and capital punishment laws for same-sex sexual relations on the other, as reflected in Western media. The report findings illustrate that Islamic Republic policies on forced sex change and criminalisation of same sex relations are in fact supplementary policies that leave LGBT citizens with no choice but to undergo unnecessary, and often uninformed and unwanted reparative procedure and reassignment surgeries, in order to access their most basic rights.” said Shadi Amin, 6Rang Coordinator.
As a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Iran must respect and protect the rights of lesbian, gay and transgender citizens but instead has set in place contradictory policies that impose reparative therapies, involuntary sterilization and sex reassignment surgeries on homosexual Iranians.
Based on the report, 6Rang has also published a brief aimed at policy makers entitled, Stop Reparative Therapies & Mandatory Sex Reassignment Surgeries. In addition to media coverage by Persian and Turkish news agencies and newspapers such as Hurriat, DHA and Segci, Reuterspublished two pieces on both the launch and parade of Iranian lesbian and transgender citizens and activists worldwide. A number of LGBT websites published reports andAdvocate.com included it in its selection of 9 unexpected Prides. In addition, through its active Twitter and Facebook posts 6Rang was able to globalize this historic event.
JFI and 6Rang’s report and march was covered by a range of mainstream media for both Farsi-speaking and international audiences. While BBC’s documentary will be available in due course, BBC Persian news site, Gooya, Radio Zamaneh, and Iran Wire published reports and photo galleries, reflecting the significance of the ground-breaking report and the first-ever march.