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"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope


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Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The tolerant Middle East

Guess which Middle Eastern cities hold massive Gay Pride parades every year? That would be Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Tel Aviv's parade was held on June 3:
Tens of thousands of people attended Tel Aviv’s annual Gay Pride Parade Friday afternoon, carrying colorful banners calling for equality.

“Being gay is ‘shaveh’ [worthwhile/ equal],” read the poster above the stage at Meir Park, where the parade began.

The event kicked off with a celebratory party in the park, complete with dancers, singers and drag queens.

Police closed streets along the parade route and near the beach, as the procession and street party got under way.

Organizers said that up to 100,000 people took part in the parade, but police put the number at some 70,000.

Police reported no unusual incidents of violence, and the parade concluded peacefully.
Jerusalem's event takes place today. Though not without controversy, specifically protests from the Orthodox Jewish community, it is expected to draw 5 000 people:
More than 5,000 marchers are expected to participate in Jerusalem’s 10th annual Gay Pride Parade on Thursday afternoon.

Open House Executive Director, Yonatan Gher, called Thursday a “combined social struggle,” which will have at least three distinct protests imbuing the city with the air of social fervor. Indeed, protesters will include the doctors marching towards Jerusalem, students and families camped out in tents across the city, and thousands of gay-rights activists marching downtown.

He estimated that the gay pride parade could almost double – from 4,000 participants last year to 7,000 participants this year – given the revolutionary vibe of the capital.
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, the gay activists who marched in Toronto's Pride Parade last year, take note: the country you are so vehemently trying to delegitimize is the only country in the Middle East where homosexuals can live openly and free from state harrassment. Your embarrassing protest would be better directed at Iran:
On Sunday, November 13 [2005], 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.”

Queers Against Iranian Terror anyone?

[crickets chirping]


1 comment:

JC Vaughan said...

Queers against Iranian Terror: you have got my total support queer or no queer. I am so disgusted with Iran I almost want to launch ten Thermonuclear Missiles at them. BIG PROBLEM: Iran is like a good person with late-stage cancer: the people are good, but the filthy fundamentalist (Islamic? HAH! more like SATANIC!) regime is pure unadulterated evil. Reports from tourists state that even the poor citizens know this, but they are terrified of their government. We can do nothing until they themselves revolt, and by then we may be too broke to help at all.