Celebs back Iran protest against executionsLittle Britain star Matt Lucas, actor Simon Callow and singer Boy George are supporting the axm and OutRage! 'Homophobia Kills' protest against the recent homophobic executions in Iran. Actor Jeremy Sheffield, comedian Scott Cappurro and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell will attend the protest outside the Iranian Embassy in London:
1pm tomorrow, Tuesday 4 October 2005:
Embassy of Iran, 16 Prince's Gate, London SW7 1PT
The Iranian Embassy is near the Royal Albert Hall, by the junction of Kensington Road and Exhibition Road. Nearest underground stations are South Kensington and Gloucester Road.Tuesday’s protest is being organised by gay magazine axm, and by queer rights group OutRage! Thousands of axm readers have signed the axm 'Homophobia Kills' petition, which will be handed over to the Iranian Ambassador.
Endorsing the protest, Matt Lucas said:
'Recently in Iran two teenagers were executed for being gay. This is just one example of the constant persecution of gay and lesbian people by the Iranian government. I support efforts to put pressure on the Iranian government to stop this persecution. While gay visibility has grown in Britain in recent years we cannot forget the plight of those in more hostile parts of the world who live with the daily risk of jail, torture and execution for no other reason than their sexuality.'
Simon Callow states:
'I'm sorry, I can't make it to the Embassy on the 4th: I'm filming all day. But I unreservedly condemn this savage and barbaric treatment of homosexual men in Iran. It is inconceivable that we should have diplomatic relations with a country which betrays its citizens in this way.'
Two gay teenagers were publicly executed in Iran on 19 July 2005 for the 'crime' of homosexuality. The youths were hanged in Edalat (Justice) Square in the city of Mashhad, in North East Iran. They were sentenced to death by Court No. 19. Iran enforces Islamic Sharia law, which dictates the death penalty for gay sex. One youth was aged 18 and the other was a minor under the age of 18. They admitted to having gay sex (probably under torture) but claimed in their defence that most young boys had sex with each other and that they were not aware that homosexuality was punishable by death. Prior to their execution, the teenagers were held in prison for 14 months and severely beaten with 228 lashes. Their length of detention suggests that they committed the so-called offences more than a year earlier, when they were possibly around the age of 16.
“Although the Iranian government claims the youths were executed for the rape of a 13 year old boy, underground gay groups inside Iran tell us that the two teenagers were lovers,” said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!.
“They point out that the Iranian government routinely makes up allegations of sexual abuse, drug-taking and spying to discredit the people it executes and to discourage public protests”.
The executions in July and ongoing revelations of continued anti-gay atrocities in Iran have shocked and mobilised axm readers who are travelling from as far afield as Scotland, Cornwall and Yorkshire to attend the protest onTuesday.
According to axm magazine editor Matthew Miles:
'The shocking images of the executed Iranian teenagers have galvanised our print and online readers, with thousands of people signing our petition in a ten day period. As LGBT people in the West finally gain most of the rights we deserve, it seems we are proving that there is such a thing as a global gay community by focusing on the struggle for equality in more hostile parts of the world. Protest is only a step but, as organisations such as Amnesty International and OutRage! have proved, it can and does bring change and that's why, along with OutRage!, axm magazine will be protesting against the Iranian Government from 1pm on Tuesday 4 October.'
Sign the petition against Iran online, or by post.
Post: Iran Petition, axm magazine, 2 Charlotte Road, London EC2A 3DH