Friday, July 22, 2005

Iranian teens executed for homosexuality

Iran publicly executed two teenagers on Tuesday accusing them of raping a 13-year-old boy and having gay sex, according to Iran's ISNA news agency.

The two teenagers were hanged in Edalat (Justice) Square in Mashhad, Iran's second-largest city. They were only identified by their initials, M.A. and A.M.

Before their execution, the teenagers were held in prison for 14 months and lashed 228 times.

Ruhollah Rezazadeh, the lawyer for the youngest teenager, appealed to Tehran's Supreme Court, saying his client was too young to be executed, but the court ordered him hanged.

While the teens admitted to having sex with each other, the London-based gay human rights group OutRage! believes the admissions were coerced under torture.

OutRage! also doubts that the 13-year-old was raped, noting that the crime was not mentioned by some key news agencies. The organization believes the alleged rape to be either a trumped-up charge or, it suggests, the 13-year-old was a willing participant.

"This is just the latest barbarity by the Islamo-fascists in Iran," said OutRage! spokesperson Peter Tatchell.

"The entire country is a gigantic prison, with Islamic rule sustained by detention without trial, torture and state-sanctioned murder," Tatchell said.

Iran enforces Islamic Sharia law, which demands the death penalty for gay sex. Under the Iranian penal code, girls as young as nine and boys as young as 15 can be executed.

Members of Iran's parliament hailing from the northeastern city of Mashad complained Wednesday about news coverage of the deaths.

"Instead of paying tribute to the action of the judiciary, the media are mentioning the age of the hanged criminals and creating a commotion that harms the interests of the state," said ultraconservative deputy Ali Asgari in a quote published by Iran Focus.

"Even if certain Web sites made a reference to their age, journalists should not pursue this. These individuals were corrupt. Their sentence was carried out with the approval of the judiciary, and it served them right," he said.


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