Ahmadinejad at Columbia University : “In Iran, We Don’t Have Homosexuals Like in Your Country”

“Iranian President Mahmood Ahmadinejad categorically denied the existence of homosexuality in Iran: “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country…. We don’t have that in our country.”
Of course Ahmadinejad is right. Iran doesn’t have any homosexuals.
Why not?
Because they execute them!
And they also execute Arabs, Baluchs, Kurds, striking workers, Sunni Muslims, communists, student activists etc.”
Peter Tatchell

IGLHRC Deplores Denial of Iranian Homosexuals by President Ahmadinejad
(New York, Monday September 24, 2007) – Today, during a controversial talk at Columbia University’s World Leaders Forum, Iranian President Dr. Mahmood Ahmadinejad categorically denied the existence of homosexuality in Iran: “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country…. We don’t have that in our country,” he said in response to a question about the rights of homosexuals.

Paula Ettelbrick, Executive Director at The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) expressed dismay at this response. “It is extremely unfortunate that the President of Iran, who used a prestigious academic forum to speak the “truth” about his country, nevertheless spoke so disingenuously about the human rights situation in Iran,” said Ettelbrick. “The Iranian President’s stark denial of our reality reflects his government’s ongoing refusal to recognize the basic human rights of LGBT people. IGLHRC and other human rights organizations have documented widespread and systematic violations of the rights of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Iran.”

In preparation for today’s forum, IGLHRC sent questions to the moderator, hoping that he would raise the issue of LGBT rights in Iran. IGLHRC expresses its gratitude to Columbia University President Lee Bollinger and to the moderator, Professor Coatsworth, for addressing these issues. This was the first time that a sitting Iranian president had been confronted with a question about the mistreatment of the LGBT community in a public forum.

Ettelbrick further stated: “While some of our closest allies have protested Columbia’s decision to provide President Ahmadinejad with a public forum, it was precisely because such a forum was created that he was challenged and held accountable for his policies.” Despite President Ahmadinejad’s denial of the existence of sexual minorities, IGLHRC recognizes that it was very important to challenge him on this issue. The skeptical laughter that President Ahmadinejad’s response provoked from the audience suggests that it was far from convincing. This underscores the value of freedom of speech – the basis of all other human rights – for holding governments accountable for their actions.

The question raised by the moderator emphasized that the international community recognizes the plight of thousands of Iranian gay and lesbians, who are either forced into exile or face daily harassment through state-sanctioned discrimination because of their sexual identity. IGLHRC asks President Ahmadinejad to defend the rights of all Iran’s citizens, regardless of their ethnicity, political opinion, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity. IGLHRC hopes the Iranian President uses this opportunity to reflect upon the legitimate concerns of the international community about his government’s domestic and international policies.

See also : Iranian President Sparks Outrage with Columbia University Speech, Gay Wired
‘Who Are We?’ Iranian Gays Ask President, The New York Sun
Ahmadinejad claims Iran has no gays, Pink News


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