Nobel Peace Laureate denounces Iranian executions of gay teenagers
Ross von Metzke | July 29, 2005
TEHRAN, Iran — Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi this week condemned the hanging of two teenagers accused of homosexual behavior and of raping other boys in northeastern Iran, a punishment that also prompted protests by the international gay and human rights groups.
According to Ebadi, last week's hangings of an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old on charges of involvement in homosexual acts violated Iran's obligations under the International Convention on the Rights of the Child act, which bans such executions.
Ebadi said her Center for the Protection of Human Rights will intensify its fight against Iran's executions of minors.
�My calls for a law clearly banning execution of under-18s has fallen on deaf ears so far but I will not give up the fight,� Ebadi told The Associated Press.
In the days following the execution, the boys names have been released to international press. Mahmoud Asgari, 16, and Ayaz Marhoni, 18, were hanged publicly on July 19 in the city of Mashhad on charges of raping younger boys. They said before their executions that they were not aware that homosexual acts were punishable by death.
Asgari had been accused of raping a 13-year-old boy. His lawyer, Rohollah Razaz Zadeh, said Iranian courts are supposed to commute death sentences handed to children to five years in jail.
"The judiciary has trampled its own laws," Razaz Zadeh told the AP.
But the lawyer said Iran's Supreme Court upheld the verdict and allowed the execution despite his objections.
Gay rights groups, such as the London-based Outrage!, and Iranian opposition groups suggested the rape allegations were trumped-up charges aimed to undermine public sympathy for the teenagers.
Ebadi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003, has campaigned to protect the rights of children and improve human rights in Iran, but her efforts have been met with stiff resistance from the judiciary, according to reports by the AP.
The Iranian government last year refused to give Ebadi permission to stage a rally to protest children's executions.
Under Iranian law, girls older than 9 and boys older than 15 face execution if they commit crimes such as murder and rape. Under certain conditions, capital punishment is imposed for those engaging in illegal sexual relations.
In 2003, a 16-year-old girl said to be suffering from a psychological disorder was executed in Neka, a town in northern Iran, on charges of having an illegal sexual relationship.
While there are no official figures on death sentences given to minors, human rights activists say about a dozen were executed in Iran last year. – Gay Link Content
Iran executes gay teenagers [21/07/2005]