By Soheila Mirzaie
July 19, 2010
?Shahrzad News: Nima is a young Iranian gay who discovered the nature of his sexuality at puberty. At first he ignored the fact that he was attracted to men, and even sought medical advice from a psychiatrist. Then he met a fellow homosexual and realised that his sexual tendencies were normal, that there were many others like him. This gave him some peace of mind and when he was 21 he came out. As is usually the case, his family found it difficult to accept that their son was gay. In consultation with their family doctor and a psychologist however they gradually accepted it.
For many years Nima led a secret life with his partner. Then the religious police and his neighbours began to harass him and eventually he spent time in Evin and Gohardasht prisons. He was sentenced to one month’s detention for his student activities and received seventy lashes for advocating homosexuality in public. He has now fled Iran and lives in exile.
You were involved in student activities. How would you describe the opposition forces’ attitude to homosexuality?
Nima: The Iranian opposition is also tainted by homophobia. You may have noticed how only a few of the participants in the protest rallies genuinely support gay rights. Many well-known human-rights activists prefer to remain silent about the issue. In my view, the one thing Ahmadinejad and the opposition leaders have in common is their attitude to homosexuality. Ahmadinejad tells the world that Iran has no homosexuals. Meanwhile the opposition remain silent and are thereby complicit in his crime.
Today’s popular movement can only succeed if it unites women, workers, students and gays and others in the campaign for their rights. As a civil-rights activist I appeal to human-rights activists to break their silence, to listen to our demands and echo them around the world.
You (to Sio) are a transsexual and have lived in Germany for the past nineteen years. How do Germans regard the gay community?
Sio: It makes little difference which country you live in, they all have much the same attitude towards gays. Everywhere straight people look down on us and don’t take us seriously. We constantly have to prove ourselves.
When we apply for a job we have to endure additional stress, worrying that our prospective employers might discover our sexuality and discriminate against us. This has happened many times. We have been turned down because of our sexuality.
I have not yet decided whether to have surgery. Society regards me as a woman and as such I have to wear women’s clothes and make up. This belies my true identity and is a denial of my rights.