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JERUSALEM, Israel – The Islamic Republic of Iran sentenced two Iranian women to death for their LGBTQ activism, promoting Christianity and contact with media opposed to the clerical regime in Tehran.
According to a Sunday report on the website of the Norwegian-based Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, “Zahra Sediqi Hamedani, known as ‘Sareh,’ 31, from Naqadeh, and Elham Chubdar, 24, from Urmia were sentenced to death by the Revolutionary Court of Urmia in a joint case on the charge of ‘Corruption on Earth’ through the promoting homosexuality.”
Urmia is a city in West Azerbaijan Province of Iran where Hengaw monitors human rights violations. Hengaw also said the two women were convicted of “promoting Christianity” and “communicating with the media opposing the Islamic Republic.”
A day after the Hengaw report, the Iran state-controlled Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported the sentences imposed on the two women. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps — a U.S.-designated terrorist entity — accused the women of “promoting homosexuality, gambling, fraud, and promoting illicit sexual relations and publishing them on the Internet.”
The IRNA report said the two women “misused” women and girls with respect to employment opportunities outside the Islamic Republic of Iran. The charge of “misuse” is related to an allegation of human trafficking leveled against the women last year.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) arrested Zahra in November and, according to the pro-Iran regime Tasnim News Agency, individuals were detained on charges of “forming a gang for trafficking girls and supporting homosexuality.”
According to an IRGC statement at the time, one of the charges against the vague “trafficking network” was “communicating and supporting homosexual groups” who “operated under the auspices of the trans-regional intelligence services.”
The Islamic Republic of Iran punishes same-sex relations with the death penalty. According to a 2008 British WikiLeaks cable, Iran’s regime has executed 4,000-6000 gays and lesbians since the country’s 1979 Islamic revolution.
The 6G Iranian and Lesbian and Transgender Network reported in December that Zahra lived and worked in Iraqi Kurdistan. Iraqi Kurdistan police arrested her after she gave an interview to BBC Persian about the jihadists in Iraq. She was incarcerated for 21 days in Iraq.
6G said Zahra sought to flee to Turkey to save herself and released a video in the event of her imprisonment. 6G posted a video on its website of her. The Persian word for 6G is Shesh rang and embodies the six colors of the LGBTQ+ flag.
Zahra said on the video, “Today, I arrived in Iran. The regime found out that I’m here via my friends. Any time I can be arrested. My life is in danger. I try to get out of Iran, I don’t know if I can make it or not.”
The Iran scholar Alireza Nader told Fox News Digital, “The Biden administration claims it cares about global LGBT issues but has remained silent on the persecution of these two LGBT activists in Iran. How can anyone take Biden seriously when he’s silent on the persecution of LGBT Iranians by the regime?” He added, “The U.S. should condemn their persecution loudly and make human rights a cornerstone of its Iran policy. But words aren’t enough. The Biden administration should take real action, including pressuring the regime by imposing additional sanctions on Iranian officials and institutions of repression. Sadly, Biden is seeking to lift sanctions on the regime.”
Deputy State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel was asked about the case during Monday’s briefing, and he said that he was aware of reports on the sentencing of the two LGBTQ activists, telling reporters, “The U.S. firmly opposes all human rights abuses against LGBTQI+ persons, and it urges governments to repeal laws that criminalize individuals on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression and sex characteristics.” He added that he had no further details regarding the specifics of the case.
The Iranian-American journalist and women’s rights activist Masih Alijenad tweeted, “Detained LGBT+ rights advocate Zahra Sedighi-Hamedani sentenced to death in Iran for. Yes in 21st century being homosexual is a punishable crime in Iran and now she and Elham Chobdar are sentenced to be executed. This act of terror must be condemned by the world. Be their voice.”