A court in Iran has sentenced two LGBTQ and intersex activists to death after their arrest for “promoting homosexuality.”
Iran Human Rights, a Norway-based NGO that champions human rights in Iran, on Tuesday noted the Urmia Revolutionary Court in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province sentenced Zahra (Sareh) Sedighi, 31, and Elham Coobdar, 24, to death after it convicted them of “corruption on earth” charges.
Members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps on Oct. 27, 2021, arrested Sedighi while she was trying to enter Turkey.
Police in Iraqi Kurdistan reportedly detained Sedighi for three weeks after she spoke with BBC Persian about the treatment of LGBTQ and intersex people in the region. Sedighi had reportedly entered Iran in order to cross the country’s border with Turkey and ask for asylum.
Iran Human Rights cited Iranian media reports that said Sedighi and Coobdar faced charges of “deceiving and smuggling women and young girls to a regional country.”
“This is while human rights sources and LGBTQI+ activists stress that Zahra and Elham were arrested and convicted for their activism,” said Iran Human Rights. “This claim was confirmed in reports aired on IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) and other official media that cited ‘promoting homosexuality’ as one of the reasons for the two activists’ arrests.”
Iran Human Rights said Sedighi and Coobdar learned the court sentenced them to death on Sept. 1.
“Zahra Sadighi and Elham Choobdar were sentenced to death without due process and in unfair legal proceedings based on forced confessions,” said Iran Human Rights Director Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam. “Their convictions have no legal validity. Islamic Republic authorities have also cited promoting homosexuality as one of the reasons for their arrests. Their lives can be saved by immediate and strong reactions by the international community and civil society.”
ILGA Asia on Tuesday described the death sentences as “concerning.”