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Iran: Universal Periodic Review: An opportunity to spotlight the rights of lesbian and transgender citizens in Iran

Published Date: 
Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Justice for Iran (JFI) | 14 October 2014 – During a pre-session organised by UPR Info ahead of Iran’s second Universal Periodic Review on October 31, JFI Co-Founder Shadi Amin, drew attention to Islamic Republic’s policy to medicalise gender identity and sexual orientation. According to Amin, “LGBT individuals who do not conform to culturally approved models of femininity and masculinity have to choose between risking harassment, persecution, arbitrary arrest and detention by police and paramilitary Basij forces because of their actual or perceived homosexual orientation, on the one hand, and seeking a diagnosis of gender identity disorder (GID) with a view to undergo sex reassignment procedures on the other.”

Shadi Amin’s statement informing UN member delegates on Wednesday, 8 October, about the situation of human rights in Iran was based on a recent research report, jointly published by JFI and 6Rang Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network. The report demonstrates how Iranian legal and medical authorities subject homosexual citizens to intrusive measures, including electroshock therapy and psychoactive medication. Furthermore, the state plays a role in propagating anti-homosexual hatred and violence. Amin’s presentation included a television interview clip of Mohammad Javad Larijani, the Head of Islamic Republic’s Human Rights Commission, where he called homosexuality “an illness” for which “people must be put under psychiatric care and sometimes even biological and physical care.”

In conclusion, Amin highlighted the need to substantially increase the number of UPR recommendations focussed on the rights of the LGBT community. Furthermore, she referred to the need to stop execution and torture of homosexual citizens and instead introduce laws in accordance with international standards for gender reassignment surgeries and procedures that guide both the medical establishment and transsexual citizens in protecting their life and rights. Acknowledging LGBT rights remain a taboo subject, she closed her statement clarifying that the recommendations may not result in immediate improvements but that through the UPR, the Iranian LGBT community views “each added recommendation as an opportunity to spotlight the rights of lesbian and transgender citizens and empower this community in Iran…through open discussion and evaluation of Iran’s actions over the coming four years.”

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a new mechanism involving a four-year cycle of cooperative review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. Under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, each State has the right to declare what actions they have taken to improve their human rights record in order to better align their national policies and praxis with their human rights obligations, and to address human right violations. Iran’s first UPR took place in February 2010. Out of 212 recommendations, Iran accepted 126.

In preparation for Iran’s second UPR, member states are gathering facts and considering recommendations that may help improve Iran’s human rights record. Input by NGOs is a vital step in this process. During this in Geneva, delegates heard from six NGO representatives specialising in different areas of human rights violations in Iran. In addition to JFI, only five other NGOs has the advantage of presenting their findings with representatives of 34 countries as well as the European Union. Three representatives of the Islamic Republic were also in attendance, but failed to make any statement.

Dr Abdolkarim Lahiji, the president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) focussed on the plight of journalists in Iran, highlighting a recent statement by President Rouhani that “no journalists are imprisoned in Iran, but this is not true. Reporters and journalists are in prison.”

Dr Mahmoud Amiri-Moghaddam of Iran Human Rights displayed charts and statistics on the increasing rate of public executions in Iran stressing that despite Iran’s promises during its 2010 UPR at least 20 juvenile executions have taken place, 11 of which were over the past year.

On behalf of the International Campaign for Human Rights for Iran, Omid Memarian focussed on the rights of minorities underscoring the fact that Rouhani’s presidential campaign promises lead many to expect a marked improvement in Iran’s human rights record, however, results indicate otherwise.

Iran Human Rights Documentation Centre’s Mohammad Hossein Nayyeri drew attention to the fact that during the last UPR the Islamic Republic justified its shortcomings by claiming its new penal code will enable the state to protect and promote rights. However, the new penal has been in place for over a year but human rights violations continue unabated.

Diane Ala’i of the Baha’i International Community (BIC) addressed the plight of Iran’s largest non-Muslim minority, and a recent report entitled “Unfulfilled Promises: Iran’s failure to act after its 2010 Universal Periodic Review” to demonstrate the gap between Iran’s commitments during the last UPR and the current state of Baha’is in Iran.

Following the conclusion of this session, JFI was invited to address a session hosted by the European Union where 15 country representatives were invited to consider recommendations that help improve the situation of LGBT citizens in Iran.

Over the months of September and October, JFI experts have met with close to forty representatives of various member states of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, and based on victim testimonies, survivor interviews and documents shared details of human rights violations in Iran.

More Links:

Iran: Stop forced and early marriages and end discrimination against sexual minorities

Watch Video: Medicalization of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Iran

Culturally Justified Violence Against Women