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Some of these areas, such as cafes and restaurants, are associated with more well-to-do and middle class LGBT persons, while others, including several well-known parks, are frequented by LGBT persons who have often been rejected by their families and are living on the fringes of society—particularly gay men and transwomen who resort to prostitution in order to make a living.
This report—based on interviews with more than 125 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Iranians inside and outside Iran over the past five years—documents discrimination and violence against Iran’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens, and others whose sexual practices and gender expression do not conform to socio-religious norms.
Several individuals interviewed made allegations that members of the security forces had sexually assaulted or raped them.
Abuses resulting from the application of Iranian law are also discussed.
The environment in Iran today is such that sexual minorities, who are often the victims of abuse and violence, are instead treated as culprits; the state appears to officially sanction harassment and abuse of LGBT persons by private actors and even police; and LGBT persons are often seen as diseased, criminals, or corrupt agents of Western culture.
Despite official pronouncements, however, it is believed that thousands of Iranians self-identify as members of Iran’s LGBT community, while many others engage in consensual same-sex acts prohibited under Iranian law.
Gender: the social and cultural codes (as opposed to biological sex) used to distinguish between what a society considers “masculine” or “feminine” conduct.Homosexual: a person attracted primarily to people of the same sex.Intersex: a person who is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not fit the typical definitions of female or male.The incidents often occur in parks and cafes, but Human Rights Watch also documented cases in which security forces raided homes and monitored internet sites for the purpose of detaining people they suspected of engaging in non-conforming sexual conduct or gender expression.The report also documents instances in which police and basij allegedly ill-treated and in some cases tortured actual or suspected LGBT people, both in public spaces and in detention facilities.