Iran admits it has gay people

But only a few, says President Ahmadinejad. Execution of lesbians and gays denied

September 30, 2008

The Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has done an astonishing volte-face by admitting in a US TV interview that there are lesbian and gay people in Iran.

Only last year, in a speech at Columbia University in New York, he notoriously claimed there were no lesbians and gays in his country.

"We do not have this phenomenon," he declared.

Last week, however, Ahmadinejad grudgingly conceded there "might be a few" gay people in Iran.

"This about-turn shows that Iran realises its gay-denial stance has been widely condemned and ridiculed," said Peter Tatchell of the LGBT human rights campaign group OutRage!, which has been campaigning in support of Iranian LGBT people for nearly 20 years.

"The fact that the President has moderated his 'no gays' position since last year is evidence that global gay protests are having an impact on the regime in Tehran," said Mr Tatchell.

However, although Ahmadinejad has conceded the existence of gay Iranians, he went on to make it clear that he doesn't approve of their existence one iota.

He denounced homosexuality as an "unlikable and foreign act" that is illegal because it is "against our values, and all divine laws�.shakes the foundations of society�.robs humanity�.(and) brings about disease."

The Iranian President made these remarks during his visit to New York to speak to the UN General Assembly last week. He was interviewed on 24 September by reporters Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman from the US current affairs TV programme, Democracy Now.

You can watch the full interview and read the full text on www.democracynow.orgIssued by OutRage!

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