The horrifying murder of a 20-year-old gay man in Iran has shed new light on how the criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual conduct and gender non-conformity perpetuates systemic violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI), said Amnesty International in a detailed analysis issued to mark the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersex-phobia and Transphobia. His murder also highlights the urgent need for the Iranian authorities to enact and implement laws to protect the human rights of LGBTI people.
Friends of Alireza Fazeli Monfared, who identified as a non-binary gay man, told Amnesty International that he was abducted by several male relatives in his hometown of Ahvaz, Khuzestan province, on 4 May 2021. The next day the relatives informed his mother that they had killed him and dumped his body under a tree. Authorities confirmed that Alireza Fazeli Monfared’s throat was slit and announced investigations, but none of the suspected perpetrators have been arrested to date.
Alireza Fazeli Monfared’s brutal murder exposes the deadly consequences of state fuelled homophobia and is a tragic reminder of the urgent need to repeal laws that criminalize consensual same-sex relations and gender non-conformity.Diana Eltahawy, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
“Alireza Fazeli Monfared’s brutal murder exposes the deadly consequences of state fuelled homophobia and is a tragic reminder of the urgent need to repeal laws that criminalize consensual same-sex relations and gender non-conformity. These laws foster a permissive climate for homophobic and transphobic hate crimes and legitimize violent, including deadly, attacks against people on the grounds of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.,” said Diana Eltahawy, Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International.
“The Iranian authorities’ brazen disregard for the lives and safety of LGBTI people and the prevailing climate of impunity for such crimes raise the alarm that his murder could go unpunished.
“We urge the Iranian authorities to conduct a prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigation into Alireza Fazeli Monfared’s murder and take urgent action to protect LGBTI people from discrimination, harassment, assaults and other abuses from state and non-state actors.”
According to individuals interviewed by Amnesty International who had known Alireza Fazeli Monfared for months or years prior to his murder, including his partner and a close friend, he had faced years of homophobic and transphobic harassment and death threats by several male relatives because he did not conform to the binary socio-cultural gender stereotypes and “norms” in Iran. According to these informed sources, he had never reported such incidents to the police out of a fear of facing violence and prosecution at the hands of the authorities.
LGBTI people in Iran face pervasive discrimination, live in the constant fear of harassment, arrest and criminal prosecution, and remain vulnerable to violence and persecution based on their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity.
Under Iran’s Islamic Penal Code consensual same-sex sexual conduct is criminalized and punished by penalties ranging from flogging to the death penalty.