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Watchdog Says Killing Of Young Gay Man In Iran Highlights Need To Protect LGBT Rights

Alireza Fazeli Monfared

Amnesty International has marked the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersex-phobia, and Transphobia by renewing its calls on Iran to repeal laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relations.

The London-based human rights watchdog said in an analysis published on May 17 that the recent "horrifying" killing of a 20-year-old gay man in Iran "has shed new light on how the criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual conduct and gender nonconformity perpetuates systemic violence and discrimination" against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people (LGBT).

The killing also "highlights the urgent need for the Iranian authorities to enact and implement laws to protect the human rights" of LGBT people from discrimination, harassment, assaults, and other abuses from state and nonstate actors. it said.

Alireza Fazeli Monfared was reportedly killed on May 4 by his half-brother and cousins who dumped his body under a tree near Ahvaz the capital of the southwestern province of Khuzestan.

Authorities said that Fazeli Monfared's throat was slit and announced an investigation, but no suspect has been arrested so far.

Amnesty International urged the authorities to "promptly conduct an independent, impartial and effective criminal investigation into the murder" and "bring those responsible to account in fair trials and without recourse to the death penalty."

"Investigations must examine whether the crime was motivated by hostility and prejudice on the grounds of his gender identity and sexual orientation."

Amnesty quoted individuals who had known Fazeli Monfared as saying he had faced "years of homophobic and transphobic harassment and death threats by several male relatives."

The sources said he had never reported such incidents to the police "out of a fear of facing violence and prosecution at the hands of the authorities."

Iranian laws criminalize consensual same-sex relations, including through the application of the death penalty, and flogging, and ban clothing, hairstyles, and other forms of gender expression that do not conform to strict gender "norms" enforced by the establishment, according to Amnesty International.

"These laws foster a permissive climate for homophobic and transphobic hate crimes and legitimize violent, including deadly, attacks against people on the grounds of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity," Diana Eltahawy, deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa at the group, said in a statement.

"The Iranian authorities' brazen disregard for the lives and safety of LGBT people and the prevailing climate of impunity for such crimes raise the alarm that his murder could go unpunished."

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