Iranian lesbian arrested seeking escape to Turkey
An Iranian lesbian was arrested while trying to cross the border of Iran’s West Azerbaijan province into Turkey last October.
According to the Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network (6Rang), the woman, identified as Sareh, was arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
As reported by the pro-Iran Tasnim news agency, Sareh was detained and charged by the IRGC with other individuals accused of “forming a gang for trafficking girls and supporting homosexuality.”
They would be charged of “communicating and supporting homosexual groups” that “operated under the auspices of the trans-regional intelligence services.”
The Sharia law system in the theocratic state of Iran imposes the death penalty for same-sex relations between men and 100 lashes for women.
Iranian lesbian was fleeing from Iraq to Turkey
6Rang reported that Sareh was living and working in Iraqi Kurdistan. Police arrested her after she gave an interview to BBC Persian on the treatment of the LGBTQ community in the region.
She was imprisoned for 21 days in Iraq before being released on bail. Fleeing, she tried to seek asylum in Turkey but was arrested in Iran. Since then, there has been no further information about her.
Before she was caught, Sareh gave three short video to a trusted person and these were passed on to 6Rang to post in case she wouldn’t make it to Turkey.
In the video posted by 6Rang, Sareh said she was afraid that she would be arrested soon as the security forces has information on her and she has to get out of Iran immediately.
Saying that she wanted people to see her videos so that they can understand the suffering of the LGBTQ community in the region, she said: “Whether with death or freedom, we will remain true to ourselves.”
“I hope that the day will come when we can all live freely in our own country,” she said.
Arrest of Iranian lesbian sign of state persecution
LGBTQ and rights activists said this arrest is indicative of state persecution of the LGBTQ community.
“Mostly gay men are targeted for state repression but this arrest shows that women accused of lesbianism are also at risk,” Peter Tatchell, the British human rights campaigner and LGBTQ+ activist told the Jerusalem Post.
Tatchell also said the charges are “most likely an attempt to fuel nonsense propaganda and conspiracy theories that Iranian LGBTs are being manipulated and aided by the security services of Israel and the West.”
Prof. Jessica Emami, a research fellow for The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy, echoed the sentiment, saying Iran was “spreading false rumors in the media and scapegoating” Sareh.
The Amnesty International branch in Iran tweeted, “The criminalization of LGBTI people perpetuates violence & discrimination against them,” in response to the news of Sareh’s arrest.
Likewise, the LGBTQ organization IGLA Asia tweeted that it was joining the movement calling on Iran to free Sareh immediately.