Ahmadinejad’s Official Website Deletes His Columbia University Commentary about Homosexuality
New York, Monday September 25, 2007
Upon monitoring the Iranian press reaction to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech and comments at the Monday forum hosted by Columbia University, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) discovered an odd disparity. The English version of the President’s official website (www.president.ir) provides a full and complete transcript of his speech and the Question & Answer segment where he claimed that homosexuality does not exist in Iran. However, the Persian-language transcript has excised both the question about treatment of lesbians and gay men in Iran and President Ahmadinejad’s soon to be legendary response.
The President’s website purportedly provides the authoritative transcripts of his speeches and is relied upon by the news media in Iran. To date, not a single Persian-language media outlet in Iran – including Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, and the semi-independent news agencies, ISNA, Mehrrnews and Farsnews, and the Wednesday morning newspapers – has reported on the President’s comments.
After President Ahmadinejad’s speech on Monday, the Professor John H. Coatsworth moderated a Question & Answer session. Among the questions was why Iran has executed citizens who are homosexuals, to which the President responded “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals, like in your country. We don’t have that in our country. In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don’t know who’s told you that we have it.”
“The first reaction of many of us was to join in the astonished response to President Ahmadinejad’s clearly outrageous view that no lesbian or gay people live in Iran,” said Paula Ettelbrick, Executive Director of IGLHRC. “But the whitewashing of his comments from the eyes and ears of most Iranian citizens speaks to something more troubling. His denial attempts to simply erase from public view the lives of men and women who face regular abuse in his country. Perhaps he knows he could not credibly get away with such a denial among his own people.”
IGLHRC has documented widespread and systemic violations of the rights of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Iran. For more information about IGLHRC’s work, visit: www.iglhrc.org. IGLHRC staff members available for interviews or background briefings on Iran include: Paula Ettelbrick or Hossein Alizadeh at: 212-430- 6016