Nearly two dozen people arrested by elite Iranian security forces from a private birthday party near the Iraq border last week and charged with homosexuality and Satanism have been released on bail, gay rights groups said.
The Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network said the detainees arrested in Kermanshah, a village in Iran near the border with Iraq, have all been reportedly released on bail.
The claim was repeated by others like Iranian Gay Rights and We Are Everywhere.
While there were no further details immediately about the charges, however a little more information emerged about the incident featuring a community that has been driven underground by the hardliner Islamic country’s crackdown on it.
According to reports, the arrests were made not by police but the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.
The captives included Iraqi man as well as expatriates from other neighboring countries. They had been under surveillance before the Revolutionary Guard raided the Kermanshah residence last week and arrested at least 17 people.
The group included eight gay couples who, the Revolutionary Guard said were married to each other.
The Iranian authorities blamed foreigners, saying they were “deploying people from Satanic and homosexual groups in an attempt to spread disgusting behavior”.
While the exact dates of the arrests or release were not know, the news about the raid came out after the Revolutionary Guard posted a brief account on its web site on 10 October.
6Rang, the Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network, which dedicates itself to raising awareness on LGBT issues in Iran, says the arrests mark the first time the Islamic republic officially declared and confirmed arrests for charges regarding same-sex relations.
It says this is also the first time the Revolutionary Guard, formed after the 1979 Islamic revolution to defend the state from external and internal threats, has openly declared responsibility for keeping in check a community described as belonging to “homosexuals” and “Satanists”.
In the past, police and Basij forces, the religious militia, were reportedly responsible for raiding house parties and arresting guests for same-sex relations or “actions against chastity”.
Earlier this year, after UN Special Rapporteur Ahmed Shaheed came down on violation of human rights in Iran, saying among other things, it continued not to recognize gays and lesbians.
The report elicited an angry retaliation from Mohammad Javad Larijani, head of Iran’s Human Rights Council, saying: ‘None of our human rights obligations requires us to do so.’
Larijani also called homosexuality ‘the imposition of a special lifestyle, which is practiced by some western communities, on all other nations of the world regardless of their culture differences and valuable human experiences’.
Later, he told the state media: ‘In our establishment, homosexuality is a very bad disease. Gathering or promoting (homosexuality) is completely illegal and there are strict consequences and laws against it.’
Lavat, a penetrative or non-penetrative sexual act between men, is listed as a crime in Iran’s Islamic Penal Code.
While consensual intercourse between men carries mandatory death penalty, between women it is punishable by 100 lashes; and by death if repeated for the fourth time.
6Rang said it is deeply worried about the well-being and fate of individuals in Iran who belong to the LGBT community.
‘They are at high risk of long-term detention, psychological and physical torture, and death,’ it said.
It is asking the international community to help spread awareness on LGBT-related issues in order to prevent the persecution and deaths of members of the LGBT community in Iran.