March 21, 2015 at 9:08 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Gay GOP group criticizes efforts to broker Iran nuclear deal

Log Cabin Republicans, Iran, gay news, Washington Blade

Roll Call on Monday will run an ad from Log Cabin Republicans that urges Secretary of State John Kerry not to sign a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.

Log Cabin Republicans is urging Secretary of State John Kerry not to broker a deal with Iran over its nuclear programs.

Roll Call on Monday will run a full-page ad from the gay GOP organization that shows the silhouette of what appears to be a dead man hanging from a rope attached to a gallows. The spot also contains an image of two legs hanging in the air under the headline “Secretary Kerry: This is about more than nukes!”

“Right now Iran is executing gay people and people merely suspected of being gay,” reads the ad. “Why are John Kerry and the Obama administration even contemplating regarding a nation guilty of terrible human rights abuses against gays, Jews and women by lifting sanctions? Human rights can’t be ignored in these negotiations.”

“Tell John Kerry this is a bad deal,” it continues.

Kerry this week met with Iranian officials in Switzerland to discuss a potential deal on the country’s nuclear programs by a March 31 deadline.

The Associated Press on Thursday reported a potential deal could involve Iran reducing the “number of machines it could use to make an atomic bomb” by 40 percent in exchange for the lessening of U.S. sanctions and the U.N. partially lifting its arms embargo.

Iran is among the countries in which homosexuality remains punishable by death.

“Given the high profile and high stakes of the United States negotiations with Iran, it was alarming that not a single gay advocacy organization was demanding the human rights abuses against gays in Iran be at the very least a part of the conversation,” Gregory T. Angelo, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, told the Washington Blade on Saturday. “To date I have not seen, heard, or read anything about these negotiations to suggest human rights violations are even on the table, let alone a matter of importance.”

“Gays in Iran are being executed just for being who they are, for goodness sake,” added Angelo. “The silence from other LGBT advocacy organizations on this matter as we enter the eleventh hour of talks necessitated Log Cabin Republicans step up and take Secretary Kerry to task and demand action.”

Arsham Parsi, a gay Iranian LGBT rights advocate who fled his homeland in 2005, told the Blade last June during an interview in D.C. that the Iranian government has executed more than 4,000 people under the auspices of their reported homosexuality between 1979 and 2000.

Two gay men were reportedly executed in the city of Rasht in March 2014 for “perversion.”

The State Department in its 2013 Human Rights Report notes consensual same-sex sexual activity in Iran remains punishable by death.

“Security forces harassed, arrested and detained individuals they suspected of being gay,” reads the report. “In some cases security forces raided houses and monitored Internet sites for information on LGBT persons. Those accused of sodomy often faced summary trials, and evidentiary standards were not always met. Punishment for same-sex sexual activity between men was more severe than for such conduct between women.”

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) in a brief interview with the Blade during the 2011 Value Voters Summit in D.C. described the execution of gay people in Iran as “a grave moral wrong.” The former presidential candidate also criticized President Obama of not publicly addressing the issue.

Forty-seven Republican members of the U.S. Senate earlier this month signed a letter to Iranian officials in which they said any deal over the country’s nuclear program could expire once he leaves office in January 2017.

Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who publicly backs marriage rights for same-sex couples, is among those who signed the letter.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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