While people can legally change their sex, sexual activity between members of the same sex is illegal and can be punishable by death. LGBT rights in Iran have come in conflict with the penal code since the s. Same-sex sexual activities are punishable by imprisonment,  corporal punishment , or execution. Gay men have faced stricter enforcement actions under the law than lesbians. Transgender identity is recognized through a sex reassignment surgery. Sex reassignment surgeries are partially financially supported by the state. Some homosexual individuals in Iran have been pressured to undergo sex reassignment surgery in order to avoid legal and social persecution.
It contains provisions that are part of sexual code promoting procreative sexuality that is interpreted to prohibit same-sex intercourse as sinful. Ancient commentary on this passage suggests that those engaging in sodomy could be killed without permission from a high priest. However, a strong homosexual tradition in Iran is attested to by Greek historians from the 5th century onward, and so the prohibition apparently had little effect on Iranian attitudes or sexual behavior outside the ranks of devout Zoroastrians in rural eastern Iran.
There is a significant amount of literature in Persian that contain explicit same-sex illustrations. Under the rule of Mohammad Reza Shah , the last monarch of the Pahlavi dynasty , homosexuality was tolerated, even to the point of allowing news coverage of a same-sex wedding. Janet Afary has argued that the Revolution was partly motivated by moral outrage against the Shah's government, and in particular against a mock same-sex wedding between two young men with ties to the court. She says that this explains the virulence of the anti-homosexual oppression in Iran.
Louvre , Paris. A Safavid Persian miniature from , depicting two men engaged in anal sex. Kinsey Institution , Bloomington. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Men and youths depicted on a Safavid ceramic panel from Chehel Sotoun , Isfahan.
Since the Revolution , the legal code has been based on Islamic law. All sexual activities that occur outside a traditional, heterosexual marriage i. Same-sex sexual activities that occur between consenting adults are criminalized and carry a maximum punishment of death—though not generally implemented. Rape, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, often results in execution, but is related to adultery and sodomy in Iran's penal code rather than being classified as "sexual assault".
The death penalty is legal for those above 18, and if a murder was committed, legal at the age of Approved by the Parliament on July 30, , and finally ratified by the Guardian Council on November 28, , articles through distinctly deal with same-sex sexual activities and their punishments in detail. If the participants are adults, of sound mind and consenting, the method of execution is for the judge to decide. If one person is non-consenting i. A non-adult who engages in consensual sodomy is subject to a punishment of 74 lashes.
Articles to assert that sodomy is proved either if a person confesses four times to having committed sodomy or by the testimony of four righteous men. Testimony of women alone or together with a man does not prove sodomy. According to Articles and , if sodomy, or any lesser crime referred to above, is proved by confession and the person concerned repents, the judge may request that he be pardoned. If a person who has committed the lesser crimes referred to above repents before the giving of testimony by the witnesses, the punishment is quashed.
The judge may punish the person for lesser crimes at his discretion. If the act is repeated three times and punishment is enforced each time, the death sentence will apply on the fourth occasion. Article asserts that the ways of proving female same-sex sexual activity in court are the same as for sodomy. Article says that both Muslims and non-Muslims are subject to the punishment. According to Articles and , the rules for the quashing of sentences, or for pardoning, are the same as for the lesser male homosexual offenses.
According to Article , women who "stand naked under one cover without necessity" and are not relatives may receive a punishment of 50 lashes. At the discretion of the Iranian court, fines, prison sentences, and corporal punishment are usually carried out rather than the death penalty, unless the crime was a rape. The charges of same-sex sexual activity have in a few occasions been used in political crimes. Other charges had been paired with the sodomy crime, such as rape or acts against the state, and convictions are obtained in grossly flawed trials.
On March 14, , famous dissident writer Ali Akbar Saidi Sirjani was charged with offenses ranging from drug dealing to espionage to homosexual activity. He died in prison under disputed circumstances. Some human rights activists and opponents of the government in Iran claim between 4, and 6, gay men and lesbians have been executed in Iran for crimes related to their sexual orientation since In a November meeting with his British counterpart, Iranian member of parliament Mohsen Yahyavi admitted that the government in Iran believes in the death penalty for homosexuality.
According to Yahyavi, gays deserve to be tortured, executed, or both. Ten to fifteen percent of executions in Iran are for rape. The rape victim may settle the case by accepting compensation jirat in exchange for withdrawing the charges or forgiving the rapist.
A woman can also receive diyya for injuries sustained. Normally, the rapist still faces tazir penalties, such as lashes and jail time for immoral acts, and often faces further penalties for other crimes committed alongside the rape, such as kidnapping, assault, and disruption of public order.
On July 19, , Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni two teenagers from the province of Khorasan were convicted by the court of having raped a year-old boy were publicly hanged. Another controversial execution was that of Makwan Moloudzadeh on December 6, As a year-old, he was ineligible for the death penalty under the law in Iran. On March 15, , the daily newspaper Etemad reported that the Tehran Criminal Court sentenced two men to death following the discovery of a video showing them engaged in sexual acts.
Another two men were allegedly hanged publicly in the northern town of Gorgan for sodomy in November An on-line petition for their release began to circulate around the internet. There were two reported crackdowns in Isfahan , Iran's third-largest city. On May 10, , Isfahan police arrested 87 people at a birthday party, including 80 suspected gay men, beating and detaining them through the weekend. Those who remained in custody were believed to have been wearing women's clothing. In April , 30 men were arrested in a raid in Isfahan Province , "charged with sodomy, drinking alcohol and using psychedelic drugs".
Same-sex marriage and civil unions are not legally recognized in Iran. Traditional Iranian families often exercise strong influence in who, and when, their children marry and even what profession they chose. No legislation exists to address discrimination or bias motivated violence on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Traditional Iranian families tend to prohibit their children from dating, as it is not a part of Iranian culture, although this has become somewhat more tolerated, among liberals.
Gay Iranian couples are often afraid to be seen together  in public, and report that LGBT people were widely stereotyped as being sex-obsessed child molesters, rapists, and disease-ridden. As Article 20 in Clause 14 states, a person who has done a sex reassignment surgery can legally change their name and gender on the birth certification upon the order of court.
Those who are in favor of legitimately being able to reassign one's sex surgically utilize article of Iran's civil code, stating that the acts of every person should be subject to rational benefit, meaning gender reassignment surgery would be in the best interest of whomever is appealing for governmental support. Caveats, however, include the need to have medical approval from a doctor that supports a dissonance between assigned gender and their true gender.
In Islam, the term mukhannathun "effeminate ones" is used to describe gender-variant people, usually transgender people who are transitioning from male to female. Neither this term nor the equivalent for "eunuch" occurs in the Quran , but the term does appear in the Hadith , the sayings of Muhammad, which have a secondary status to the central text. Moreover, within Islam, there is a tradition on the elaboration and refinement of extended religious doctrines through scholarship.
While Iran has outlawed homosexual activity, Iranian Shia thinkers such as Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini have allowed for transsexuals to reassign their sex so that they can enter heterosexual relationships. This position has been confirmed by the current Supreme Leader of Iran , Ayatollah Ali Khamenei , and is also supported by many other Iranian clerics. The state will pay a portion of the cost for a gender reassignment operation.
Since the mids, the Iranian government has legalized the practice of sex reassignment surgery under medical approval and the modification of pertinent legal documents to reflect the reassigned gender. In , Khomeini passed a fatwa allowing gender reassignment operations as a cure for "diagnosed transsexuals", allowing for the basis of this practice becoming legal.
Hojatoleslam Kariminia, a mid-level Islamic cleric in Iran, is another advocate for transsexual rights, having called publicly for greater respect for the rights of Iranian transsexuals. However, transsexuality is still a taboo topic within Iranian society, and no laws exist to protect post-operative transsexuals from discrimination. In order for the two to be in an open relationship, Sahar considers surgery to work within the confines of law which permits relationships after transitioning due to the relationship being between a male and female.
In , a book entitled Witness Play by Cyrus Shamisa was banned from shelves despite being initially approved because it said that certain notable Persian writers were homosexuals or bisexuals. In , the government in Iran loaned an Iranian collection of artwork that was locked away since the Revolution by the Tate Britain gallery for six months. The artwork included explicit homoerotic artwork by Francis Bacon and the government in Iran stated that upon its return, it would also be put on display in Iran.
In , the Iranian Reformist paper Shargh was shut down by the government after it interviewed an Iranian author, living in Canada. While the interview never mentioned the sexual orientation of Saghi Ghahreman, it did quote her as stating that, "sexual boundaries must be flexible The immoral is imposed by culture on the body".
The government in Iran does not allow a political party or organization to endorse LGB rights. The Green Party of Iran has an English translation of its website that states, "Every Iranian citizen is equal by law, regardless of gender, age, race, nationality, religion, marital status, sexual orientation, or political beliefs" and calls for a "separation of state and religion". The Worker Communist Party of Iran homepage has an English translation of its manifesto that supports the right of "All adults, women or men" to be "completely free in deciding over their sexual relationships with other adults.
Voluntary relationship of adults with each other is their private affair and no person or authority has the right to scrutinize it, interfere with it or make it public". The leftist Worker's Way , the liberal Glorious Frontiers Party , and the center-right Constitutionalist Party of Iran have all expressed support for the separation of religion and the state, which might promote LGBT rights.
In , scholar Saviz Shafai gave a public lecture on homosexuality at the Shiraz University and in would research sexual orientation and gender issues at Syracuse University.
While the founder of this group had to flee Iran and continue his work as an exile, there is an underground LGBT rights movement in Iran. Ali Mafi, an openly gay Iranian-born comedian started his career in In all his shows, Ali mentions his status as an Iranian citizen and his commitment to being proud of who he is regardless.
Ali currently resides in San Francisco, California, which hosts a prominent gay community. During protests against the outcome of the Iranian election in July , it was reported that several openly gay Iranians joined crowds of protesters in the United Kingdom and were welcomed with mostly positive attitudes towards LGBT rights. The day is on the fourth Friday of July and is and celebrated annually in secret.
In , Dr. A booklet was approved, with explanation of condoms, and distributed to high school students.