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A young gay man was reportedly killed and beheaded by his family in Iran after they discovered his sexuality.
Alireza Fazeli-Monfared, 20, was murdered on May 4 by three relatives near the Iranian city of Ahvaz, where he lived, after the country’s military exempted him from service due to “moral and sexual depravities.”
According to IranWire, Fazeli-Monfared was visited by his half-brother and two cousins, who told him they were taking him to see his father. They travelled to the village of Borumi, on the outskirts of Ahvaz.
The men proceeded to murder Fazeli-Monfared, before beheading him and leaving his body under a tree. He was discovered the following day.
Fazeli-Monfared’s brother contacted his mother and told her they had “finished him off” and informed her where she could find Fazeli-Monfared’s body, according to his boyfriend Aghil Bayat. Fazeli-Monfared’s mother was later admitted to hospital with shock, the friend said.
The three men were subsequently arrested and a police investigation opened, IranWire reports.
Fazeli-Monfared had allegedly been preparing to flee Iran and join Bayat in Turkey, in order to live openly as a gay man.
His half-brother warned Fazeli-Monfared’s mother that he “dishonored” and “shamed” the family with the way he dressed, Bayat said.
Suspicions about Fazeli-Monfared’s sexuality were apparently confirmed after his military exemption card arrived in the family home, stating that he had been exempted due to being gay. He was reportedly not at home when it was delivered.
Local activists have argued that the exemption cards expose a person’s sexuality or gender identity to police, employers, and educational institutions. And, as in Fazeli-Monfared’s case, to family members.
“Nothing is more difficult than to expect to see somebody you love in a few days, and suddenly you hear he is dead,” Bayat, an LGBTQ rights activist, told IranWire. “Nothing is more difficult than to never be able to see him, or hear his voice, forever. This is an excruciating pain that will remain in my heart to the end of time.”
Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad tweeted that Fazeli-Monfared was “brutally killed by his brother & cousins for being gay as part of an honour killing.”
Honor killings, also known as shame killings, involve the murder of a family member when it is believed they have brought shame or dishonor upon the family. A 2019 study found that people in a majority of Arab nations were more accepting of the practice of honor killings than they were of homosexuality.
“Through its homophobic laws, anti-gay propaganda, and light sentences for honour killings, the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for facilitating the murder of countless members of the LGBTQ community in Iran,” Alinejad tweeted.
“This community is yearning to be heard by the world…. The world must hear the cries for help of Iran’s LGBTQ community. The Islamic Republic of Iran both directly and indirectly brutalizes them.”
3-Through its homophobic laws, anti-gay propaganda, and light sentences for honour killings, the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for facilitating the murder of countless members of the LGBTQ community in Iran. This community is yearning to be heard by the world
— Masih Alinejad 🏳️ (@AlinejadMasih) May 8, 2021
RuPaul’s Drag Race season 12 star Jackie Cox, whose mother is Iranian, said his “heart is broken” for Fazeli-Monfared.
“Beheaded in Iran by his own brother for being gay. He was attempting to seek asylum in Turkey with his boyfriend,” Cox tweeted. “Only TWENTY years old. Imagine what his life would have been had he escaped?”
My heart is broken for #Alireza – beheaded in Iran by his own brother for being gay. He was attempting to seek asylum in Turkey with his boyfriend. Only TWENTY years old. Imagine what his life would have been had he escaped? 😔💔 #AlirezaIsMyFamily #علیرضا_فاضلی_منفرد @6rangiran pic.twitter.com/tCjYzU7IXP
— Jackie Cox (@JackieCoxNYC) May 9, 2021
Iran’s Islamic Penal Code criminalizes same-sex sexual relations and those convicted of engaging in gay sex are sentenced to the death penalty.
Human rights lawyer Gissou Nia noted on Twitter that a conviction of sodomy requires an “evidentiary burden” that is “difficult to overcome,” but Iran’s legal system allows judges to use their own “knowledge” to “independently convict a person.”
“Although exact statistics are unavailable, sources estimate that hundreds of people have been executed for homosexual acts since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979,” she continued.
“The explicit criminalization of these acts contributes to an intense sense of fear and shame for individuals who wish to be themselves and live freely. It also creates a culture of impunity for families who frown upon their LGBTQI family members.”
Nia noted that “legal protection against abusive family members is slim.”
“The law gives parents extensive discretion in disciplining their children,” she added. “Filing a complaint against abusive family can further endanger LGBTQI persons, so abuse is often unreported.”
As a baseline, it is important to understand that Iran's Islamic Penal Code explicitly criminalizes same-sex relations, even imposing the death penalty on individuals convicted of sodomy.
— Gissou Nia/ گیسو نیا (@GissouNia) May 8, 2021
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