May 15, 2010
It's something not often mentioned in the news over here, but Iran's a rough place to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Iran is ruled by Sharia Law, in which homosexuality or bisexuality are explicitly illegal and punishable offenses. If you're caught you'll be lucky if they just throw you in jail; maybe you'll be tortured while you're in there. Repeat or 'unrepentant' offenders are executed (note: that link's NSFW and probably triggering, view at your own risk). Period. There is an LGBT rights movement in Iran and has been for about twenty years now but it's largely underground due to the harsh punishments meted out for being a part of it; Iran isn't exactly known for its love or expression of human rights. Unfortunately it's not easy to seek asylum in another country for being queer.
Kiana Firouz is an LGBT activist in Iran who is outspoken and very active over there. She is also a filmmaker (documentaries and otherwise), an actress, and a lesbian. Much of her documentary work is about the plight of members of the LGBT community in her country of origin. Her documentary work has also brought her under surveillance and harassment by the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, which caused her to flee to England to continue her work, namely, a movie called Cul de Sac, which is based largely upon her experiences living in Iran. Unfortunately, when the trailer for the movie hit Youtube (note: flagged as inappropriate for some users; requires you to log in to watch it, I recommend Bugmenot but someone's spamming the youtube.com list with fake accounts so it may take you a while) the Iranian government began calling for her deportation back to Iran as a criminal. Firouz has requested asylum from the British government but her request was denied and she could be sent back at any time. If deported to Iran she faces, in all probability, torture and execution by hanging.
The sad thing is that the news media largely seems to be taking a pass on this so I ask you to spread the word as far and as fast as you can. Things don't look good. The group EveryOne is calling for people to e-mail the British Home Office (public (dot) enquiries (at) homeoffice (dot) gsi (dot) gov (dot) uk) to plead for her to be declared a refugee and granted asylum. One of the responders to this article has given the snailmail address for the Minister and Secretary of State at the British Home Office, but unless you live in the EU it's doubtful that any handwritten correspondence will get there in time. Another responder has posted the article submission addresses of a number of major news outlets in an attempt to draw attention to Firouz's plight. If you want to contact them to try to get some more visibility, here they are:
- foreign (at) nytimes (dot) com
- news-tips (at) nytimes (dot) com
- evening (at) cbsnews (dot) com
- investigates (at) cbsnews (dot) com
- nbcnews (at) msnbc (dot) com
- mediainquiries (at) msnbc (dot) com