April 21, 2017 at 11:31 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Report: Iranian police arrest more than 30 men for ‘sodomy’

Iran, gay news, Washington Blade

Police in the Iranian province of Isfahan on April 13, 2017, reportedly arrested more than 30 men for “sodomy.” (Image public domain)

More than 30 men in the Iranian province of Isfahan have reportedly been arrested because of their sexual orientation.

The Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees, a Toronto-based organization that helps Iranians who have fled their homeland because of anti-LGBT persecution seek asylum in Canada and other countries, in an email to supporters said police raided a private party in Bahadoran at around 8:30 p.m. local time on April 13.

The Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees said officers fired “several gunshots” before they arrested more than 30 men between 16- and 30-years-old “for being homosexual.”

The group said it has confirmed reports that the officers who arrested the partygoers attacked and beat them. The Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees also noted some of those who were taken into custody were not gay.

The officers transferred them to a prison in the city of Isfahan, according to the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees. Members of the Basij, a militia that is part of the country’s Revolutionary Guard, reportedly told the families of the partygoers they were arrested “sodomy.”

The Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees said a prosecutor has charged them with sodomy, drinking alcohol and “using psychedelic drugs.”

The organization in its email said authorities forced the partygoers to write down the “full names of all their LGBT friends and acquaintances.” The Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees also cited a report that indicates they will have to undergo so-called anal tests “in order to provide evidence of homosexual acts to the court.”

“This unfortunate event has created fear and chaos among the LGBT community in Esfahan,” said the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees.

Trump travel ban includes Iran

Iran is among the handful of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual acts remain punishable by death.

President Trump on Jan. 27 signed an executive order that banned citizens from Iran and six other predominantly Muslim nations from entering the U.S. for 90 days, suspended the U.S. Refugees Admission Program for 120 days and indefinitely banned Syrian refugees from entering the country. A revised executive order that Trump signed last month removed Iraq from the list of countries from which citizens could not enter the U.S.

The second executive order has been challenged in court.

Pedram, a gay man from the Iranian city of Shiraz who asked the Blade not to publish his name, in January said he fled to Turkey because of discrimination and persecution he said he experienced because of his sexual orientation.

He said he had planned to resettle in the U.S. with his sister who lives in Houston with her family. Pedram told the Blade he was expected to leave Turkey this spring, but his final interview with the organization that works with the U.N. Refugee Agency works cancelled it after Trump signed the first executive order.

“We are running from other bad regimes like the Islamic Republic (of Iran) regime,” said Pedram. “But now Trump bans us from going (to the U.S.) That’s very sad.”

refugees, gay news, Washington Blade

Arsham Parsi of the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees, right, speaks at a panel the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus co-hosted at the Rayburn House Office Building on Feb. 22, 2017. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

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

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