According to the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, they were charged with encouraging homosexuality and Christianity.
The Iranian authorities have condemned two LGBTQ activists to death for “promoting homosexuality,” a human rights group claimed on Sunday.
According to the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, the Revolutionary Court in the city of Urmia in northwestern Iran imposed the death penalty on Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani, 31, and Elham Choubdar, 24, after finding them guilty of “Spreading corruption across the globe.”
More specifically, the defendants were accused of “Promoting homosexuality” and “Communicating with media that oppose the Islamic Republic.” According to Amnesty International, Hamadani appeared in a BBC documentary in 2021 and talked about the abuses the LGBTQ community faces in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. In defense of LGBTQ persons, she also posted a few posts to social media.
Human rights activists also say she is accused of “promoting Christianity.” According to Amnesty, “This accusation stems from wearing a cross-shaped necklace and going to a House Church in Iran many years ago..”
The two are said to have been informed of the decision while in detention in the women’s wing of the Urmia jail. Soheila, 52, another woman is reportedly being imprisoned for the same offenses, though the sentence remains unclear.
The Iranian authorities acknowledged the sentence, but insisted the pair were involved in human trafficking and not activism. The judiciary’s news outlet, Mizan, reported that contrary to rumors, “These two men were accused of deceiving young women and girls, and then trafficking them into one of the other countries in the region..”
The Hengaw Organization for Human Rights said Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani was detained by operatives from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an influential branch of Iran’s armed forces, in late October 2021 while crossing the Turkish border. Afterwards, she was kept for two months in solitary confinement before being moved to the women’s wing.
At the time, Amnesty International decried Hamadani’s arrest, and asked the nation’s Chief Justice “immediate and unconditional release” the activist, as she had been detained solely due to “Her sexual orientation, real or imagined.”
Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution has made homosexuality a criminal offense. Penalties range from the death penalty to flogging.
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