Four men in a southwestern province in Iran have been sentenced to death for “sodomy," according to a recent report by the Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA).
According to The Christian Post, the men, Javid Akbari, Saadat Arefi, Vahid Akbari, and Houshmand Akbari could be put to death by hanging within days. Shari’a law, the moral code and religious law of Islam that Iran follows, states that homosexuality is illegal and does not differentiate between consensual and non-consensual acts. Same-sex acts are not offences established within the criminal code included in Shari’a law. Other Islamic nations that punish homosexual activity include Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia. In Indonesia, Jordan, Egypt, and Iraq same-sex acts are punishable but the death penalty is not always passed to defendants.
There are no actual statistics that reflect the true homosexual population of Iran. However, thousands of Iranians have declared themselves homosexual despite President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech in 2007 at Columbia University stating that homosexuality in Iran does not exist. The Islamic republic has already drawn the ire of other nations after hanging three young males accused of being homosexual in 2011 according to The Independent.
Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International are not permitted within the borders of Iran. Such an organization usually provides a sober second thought to countries bestowing alleged injustices upon the people. Despite the inability to establish a presence with Iran and a lack of definite information, human rights organizations have condemned the sentence and question the fairness of the four men’s trial. According to the BBC News , Iranian human rights activists estimate that over 4,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed since the Ayatollahs seized power in 1979.
At a time when Iran has alienated itself from most of the Western world, the impact of carrying out the death sentence passed to these four men remains to be seen. However, the country’s continuous disregard for basic human rights will no doubt cause further condemnation as Iran maintains its position as the nation that executes possibly the most people annually.