Hear the voices of LGBT activists and (extra) ordinary LGBT Iranians
Wednesday May 16 at 6:30pm
Amnesty International’s Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London, EC2A 3EA. Map: goo.gl/eS9C7
Small Media and the Peter Tatchell Foundation are hosting an event the evening before IDAHO to celebrate the launch of “LGBT Republic of Iran”, a Small Media report that documents the views of a diverse range of LGBT Iranians who have lived under the repressive and homophobic Iranian regime.
Read the report online here: goo.gl/D3l5r
The event includes an overview of the report’s findings by Small Media’s Director of Operations, Dr Bronwen Robertson, a music performance from Iranian guitarist Ramtin Montazemi, a Q&A panel of Iranian experts moderated by the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker, a poetry reading of work by Iranian LGBT literary activists, a short video screening about LGBT asylum seekers in Turkey, and video messages from LGBT Iranians enduring the repression of the Iranian government. Plus lesbian activist Shadi Amin, human rights lawyer Mehri Jafari and journalist for the Guardian Saeed Kamali Dehghan.
You are welcome to join us. Admission is free. But you need to reserve your attendance in advance. Please register here: goo.gl/ZLjRL
More information from Bronwen Robertson: [email protected] 0753 120 3113
LGBT Iranians are suffering at the hands of the Iranian government. The authorities repress and entrap them online, they are ostracised from society, and find little solace in the asylum-seeking process.
LGBT Iranians are routinely harassed both by society and by the state. Many have been physically tortured and punished and some have been sentenced to death solely because of their sexual orientation. One of the few ways LGBT Iranians can express their true selves, find valuable information about sexuality, health and identity, and build a sense of community is through the internet, the use of which is also inherently dangerous in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Bronwen Robertson, Director of Operations, Small Media
“As a lesbian who lived in Iran for more than a year, I know first-hand how oppressive Iranian society and the regime can be. This research report was a passion project for me.
“The threat of the ‘national internet’, which has been a hot topic in the media of late, is very real for Iran’s minority communities, and because Small Media believes in the power of technology to affect change, we are particularly concerned at the heightened repression of online activity in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“The voices in our report cry out for action. Not only do LGBT Iranians feel excluded from their society, they also fear entrapment and risk severe punishments, such as torture and even death.
“In 2007, Ahmadinejad famously denied the existence of homosexuals in Iran. But what thrives beneath the densely woven fabric of the regime are vibrant LGBT communities who need our help”.
Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation
“This is an extraordinary report which documents the normally hidden, silenced voices of LGBT Iranians. These are moving personal testimonies of the isolation, fear, alienation, suffering, rage and defiance of sexual minorities living under the harsh homophobic rule of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“They show that despite state repression and the frequent compromises they are forced to make to protect themselves, many Iranian LGBTs manage to get on with their lives and to forge a sense of community and solidarity.
“The Peter Tatchell Foundation is honoured to work with Small Media to help raise awareness of the lives and aspirations of LGBT Iranians – to give them a platform to speak for themselves.”
Gay male, 26 years old, from Bandar Anzali
“If I said I saw myself as being part of this society, I’d be telling the biggest lie of my life. I don’t see myself as part of this society at all. That’s because of my homosexuality and the Iranian people’s mentality about homosexuality … I usually refer to Iran as ‘your country’ instead of ‘my country’ or ‘our country’ … Words can’t describe how important the internet is for me … Because I live in a really small city, where the homosexual community (if there even is one in our city!) is very very secretive … the only way for me is the internet”
Male to female transsexual, 26 years old, from Lorestan
“I am a human being, but I was created with an imperfection. I’m someone that nobody wants to be friends with, someone that even her own family doesn’t like … Nobody will employ me because of the way that I am … I long to become a woman, get married, have a family and find a good job … I like to be surrounded by people, but people always reject me. It’s as if I’m from another planet and they don’t want to be seen with me”
Female to male transsexual, 18 years old, from Tehran
The internet is very important for me. Before I had the internet my entire life was dedicated to playing computer games. I use the internet for research, information, chat, entertainment … I’m online about 9-10 hours per day. I connect to the internet using Wi Max. I found most of my trans friends online and then I met them in real life”
Notes to editors:
The launch of Small Media’s report takes place on 16 May 2012 at 6.30pm at Amnesty International’s Human Rights Action Centre in London.
Tickets are free but pre-registration is mandatory. Tickets can be acquired through the event’s Eventbrite page at: http://lgbtrepublic.eventbrite.co.uk
For more details on the content of the talks and biographies of the speakers please contact Bronwen Robertson, Small Media’s Director of Operations: [email protected] or 0753 120 3113