Gays join Iran democracy protest in London

Ahmadinejad admits that gays exist in Iran and that they voted against him

June 22, 2009

Peter Tatchell of OutRage! Photo - Peter Tatchell
LONDON — Nearly 600 people – both straight and gay – Thursday night's demonstration in London in solidarity with the Iranian people's mass protests for democracy and human rights.

The rally was held outside the Iranian Embassy and included a gay contingent comprising members of OutRage!, Iraqi LGBT and gay Muslims.

"Although there were a few awkward looks, we received a mostly warm welcome from the predominantly straight Iranian protesters," said human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, who had encouraged people to turnout on Thursday night, to coincide with the mass protests in Tehran the same day.

"Some thanked us for joining the demonstration; others specifically emphasised their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights. It was a very positive move to have a visible gay presence at the rally. I think we generated considerable goodwill from many of those in attendance.

"We joined the protest to show our solidarity with the heroic freedom struggle of the Iranian people.

"We support Iranian LGBTs who demand an end to state-sponsored homophobia, including the repeal of laws that result in the arrest, imprisonment, flogging and execution of queers.

"We also support Iran's defiant women's rights activists, the jailed trade unionists, the beaten and murdered students, the persecuted Baha'is and Sunni Muslims, and Iran's oppressed ethnic minorities, the Arabs, Kurds, Baluchs and Azeris. Their struggle is our struggle, because human rights are universal.

"At a speech at Columbia University in New York in 2007, the man who claims the Iranian presidency after the recent disputed election, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, boasted that there are 'no gays' in Iran.

"But now in his latest broadside against the pro-democracy protesters in Tehran, he has accused his political opponents of 'officially recognising thieves, homosexuals and scumbags' in order to win their votes. The old tyrant has let the cat of the bag. Gay people exist in Iran and they – and millions of others – voted against him. Hurrah!" said Mr Tatchell. – Issued by Peter Tatchell - Outrage!

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