The two women, aged 31 and 24, were accused of promoting homosexuality and the Christian religion, according to the NGO Hengaw.
Two lesbians and LGBTQ activists accused of promoting homosexuality have been sentenced to death in Iran, activists reported Monday (September 5th), urging the international community to prevent their execution.
Zahra Sedighi Hamedani, 31, and Elham Chubdar, 24, were sentenced by a court in the northwestern city of Urmia, the Kurdish human rights organization “Hengaw” reported on Monday.
According to the NGO, the two young women were also accused of promoting the Christian religion and of having communicated with a media opposed to the Iranian regime. The two activists are currently being held in the women’s section of Urmia prison. Another woman, Soheila Ashrafi, 52, from Urmia, targeted by the same charges, was also arrested. She is awaiting her verdict.
In a statement published Monday on its Mizan Online site, the Judicial Authority confirmed the death sentence of Zahra Sedighi Hamedani and Elham Chubdar, for “corruption on earth”. This is the most serious charge in the Iranian penal code. Shadi Amin, coordinator of the Iranian organization for the defense of the rights of LGBTQ people “6Rang”, based in Germany, also confirmed to AFP the verdicts against the two young women. “We now urge Germany and other foreign governments to put pressure” on Iran to achieve the release of the activists, she told AFP. “This is the first time that a woman has been sentenced to death in Iran because of her sexual orientation,” she said.
Concern grows among LGBTQ activists
The fate of a prominent Iranian pro-LGBTQ activist, Sedighi Hamedani – known as Sareh – has also been of great concern for several months. She was arrested in October 2021 by Iranian security forces as she attempted to flee to neighboring Turkey. Sedighi Hamedani was then imprisoned in solitary confinement for almost two months.
According to the NGO Hengaw, she was not allowed to see a lawyer during her detention in Iran, agents threatened to execute her, insulted her physical appearance, and warned her that she could lose her custody of her two children. In January, Amnesty International reported that the charges against the activist related to her social media advocacy for LGBTQ people and her appearance in a BBC documentary aired in May 2021 about the persecution of LGBTQ people in Kurdistan. Iraqi, where she was.
Before leaving Iraqi Kurdistan, where she had been detained, Sedighi Hamedani had sent videos to the NGO 6Rang, to be made public if she failed to find shelter. “We, the LGBTQ community, are suffering. Whether it leads to death or freedom, we will stay true to ourselves,” she says in one such video. “I hope to find freedom”, she adds, also claiming to have been tortured in particular by electrocution while she was detained in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Human rights defenders accuse Iran of currently waging a wave of repression affecting all sections of society. These activists denounce in particular arrests targeting the Baha’i religious minority, the increase in the number of executions in the country and the arrest of foreign nationals.