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Saturday, July 8, 2006

Here, Queer, Dead!


Click to Send PostcardsAwkward acronyms notwithstanding, gay campaign groups OutRage! (United Kingdom) and IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia), along with Michael Petrelis in San Francisco and Doug Ireland in New York, have mobilized a global campaign and declared July 19, 2006 an International Day of Action Against Homophobic Persecution in Iran(IDAAHOPI). The campaign marks the first anniversary of Iran's brutal hanging of two gay teenagers, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni.

Iran's CYBWTMACO (Can You Believe What These Motherfuckers Are Capable Of) treatment against its citizens mirrors the atrocites we perpetrate against the citizens of other countries in secret prisons run by the CIA (Christ, It's America!)

Back in the 80s, reclaiming the word “queer” and transforming it from an epithet to a word of empowerment, the brilliant activist group, Queer Nation, coined the phrase, “We’re Here, We’re Queer, Get Used to It!” And despite a military that discharges gays during a recruiting drought and War on Terror, and a cultural retardation that accepts that somehow Kevin Federline makes a better parent than Rosie O’Donnell, America, for the most part, has gotten used to it. A little too used to it.

In an underground interview by veteran political journalist Doug Ireland, Mani, a pseudonymous gay activist with Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization (PGLO), living in the Islamic Republic of Iran stated: “You who live serenely and comfortably on the other side of Iran’s frontiers, be aware that those who think and feel and love like you do in Iran are executed for the crime of homosexuality, are assassinated, kidnapped, and barred from working in offices. You have festivals, and they prisons. You select Mr. Gay of the Year, but they don’t even enjoy the right to have gravestones. Be fair and tell us what difference there is between us and you. Isn’t it time that all homosexuals around the world rise up and come to our defense?”

From his base in Toronto, Arsham Parsi, human rights secretary of the PGLO, told Gay City News that members in Iran have been asked to light candles in their windows on July 19 – the least provocative display of solidarity that would reduce the risk of the “homo-hating paramilitary basiji thugs who work for the ayatollahs.”

As with the stoning death sentence of Amina Lawal, the Nigerian women who was found guilty for having an adulterous encounter resulting in a child, the perceptions of the West do not necessarily translate when it comes to feminism or other cultural interpretations. Despite Western indignation, as a devout Muslim, Amina Lawal accepted her fate as the will of Allah. Many feared that the international outcry would actually be more harmful than useful as Nigeria asserted its sovereignty over its internal affairs. (No pun intended).

With the killing of gay kids, however, there is no cultural sensitivity required. While gay rights groups in the United States, such as the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD, ply themselves with sponsored vodka at black tie fundraisers, it took the scorn of Michael Petrelis – the sole organizer of any kind of protest last year when the executions took place, and who demanded the State Department condemn such brutality – to mobilize others to recognize the power inherent in a global condemnation.

In its day, Queer Nation told a collectively homophobic nation to get used to it. Unfortunately, too many people did, but with it came complacency. It's time for a Queer Nation comeback, with a slight twist -- We're Here, We're Queer, Stay Clear.

Here, Queer, Dead Flag
(High Res PDF for print)


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Here, Queer, Dead!


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Dear Madame Secretary: Iran executed two gay teens on July 19, sparking worldwide condemnation by gay and human rights organizations of these barbaric state-sanctioned killings, according to a story in the Times of London last week.

In light of the outrageous hanging of these gay Iranian teens and our country's commitment to protecting the human rights of all the world's citizens, I believe you have a responsibility to strongly and unequivocally deplore the executions by the Iranian government. [...]

[...] While I am pleased you expressed deep concern for gay citizens everywhere, I am very troubled that you have yet to issue any statements, comments, denunciations or criticisms against Iran over the immoral death by hanging of two gay teens.

Please end your silence about Iran's killing of the gay teens, forcefully condemn the executions and call attention to this despicable behavior by the Iranian government.

Michael Petrelis in Letter to Condoleezza Rice, July 26, 2005

On July 19 in the northeastern city of Mashhad, Iran, two teenagers, Ayaz Marhoni and Mahmoud Asgari, were put to death for a crime involving homosexual intercourse. Asgari, at least, was underage at the time of the offense. Before the execution Marhoni and Asgari were detained for approximately fourteen months and received 228 lashes each for drinking, disturbing the peace and theft. Despite appeals from the defendants' lawyers and protests by Iranian human rights activists such as Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian Supreme Court upheld the verdict and sentence, which was carried out by public hanging. [...]

[...] There's no question that the executions of Marhoni and Asgari deserve fierce condemnation. And it remains a possibility that this was, indeed, a violation not just of human rights but of gay rights--though it is highly unlikely that the two self-identified as gay. What's worth exploring is how our perception of the case has been refracted through the prism of ideological debates over the nature and danger of radical Islam, and how assumptions about the "clash of civilizations" that supposedly pits enlightened, secular, humane Western society against backward, theocratic, oppressive Islamic society seem to have impaired our ability to get the facts straight.[...]

[...] When asked if HRC would continue to protest the executions if the rape charges proved accurate, Fisher said, "We would be relieved to learn that the charges of homosexual sex were wrong, and that this turned out to be a case of assault." As an organization that focuses "on issues specific to the LGBT community," Fisher said that HRC "does not have a position on the death penalty." In his second post on the hangings, Doug Ireland noted that the controversy around the hangings demonstrates that American gay organizations and media have "little experience or background in evaluating, reporting on, or mobilizing around" the "problems of same-sexers in foreign cultures" and that they lack a "perspective that situates gay oppression within the broader context of the challenge to human rights, or engage with human rights issues that are not specifically gay."

Richard Kim, Witness to an Execution, The Nation, August 7, 2005


Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Location: Homo-Monument(Keizersgracht canal near Westerkerk)
Time: 10 pm
Contacts: René van Soeren of COC, rvansoeren@coc.nl, Mike Tidmus, tidmus@mac.com

Brussels, Belgium
Location: To be announced
Time: To be announced
Contact: Stephen Barris, stephenbarris@ilga.org

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Location: To be announced
Time: To be announced
Contact: Michael James, MJames@OurIndependent.com

United Kingdom
Location: House of Commons, Committee Room 12
Time: 6:30 pm
Contacts: Peter Tatchell, peter@tatchell.freeserve.co.uk & Brett Lock, brettlock@gmail.com

Marseilles, France
Location: To be announced
Time: To be announced
Contact: Louis-George Tin, TINLuigi@aol.com

Mexico City, Mexico
Location: Contempo Cine, Londres 161
Time: 7:00 pm
Contact: Enkidu Magazine, info@enkidumagazine.com

Moscow, Russia
Location: To be announced
Time: To be announced
Contact: Nicolas Alexeyev, nicolas_alexeyev@yahoo.com

New York, New York
Location: Iranian Mission to the UN, 622 Third Avenue
Time: 5:00 pm
Contact: Lisa Levy, llevy@iglhrc.org

Provincetown, Massachusetts
Location: Town Hall Square
Time: To be announced
Contact: Andrew Sullivan, andsul@aol.com

Sacramento, California
Location: Lambda Community Center, 1927 L Street
Time: 6:00 pm
Contact: Jerry Sloan, JerrySloan95828@yahoo.com

San Diego, California
Location: U.S. Federal Building, 880 Front Street
Time: 4:00 pm
Contact: Michael Mussman, michaelmussman@yahoo.com

San Francisco, California
Location: Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro and Market Streets
Time: 5:00 pm
Contact: Michael Petrelis, mpetrelis@aol.com

Seattle, Washington
Location: Seattle Central Community College Plaza, Pine and Broadway
Time: 7:00 pm
Contact: George Bakan, sgn2@sgn.org

Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Location: Calvary Cathedral, 500 S. Main Avenue
Time: 9:00 pm
Contact: Kathy Knobloch, thecenter.colc@midconetwork.com

Stockholm, Sweden
Location: Iranian Embassy, Elfviksvägen Västra Yttringe gård Lidingö
Time: 5:00 pm
Contact: Bill Schiller, bill.schiller@sr.se

Tehran, Iran
Location: Not to be announced
Time: All day and evening
Contact: Arsham Parsi, arsham@pglo.net

Toronto, Canada
Location: University of Toronto Hart House, 7 Hart House Circle.
Time: 5:00 pm
Contact: Arsham Parsi, arsham@pglo.net

Vancouver, Canada
Location: Vancouver Art Gallery - Robson Plaza
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Contact: Finn Kovaltsenko, aidengreer@shaw.ca

Vienna, Austria
Location: Office of IranAir, A-Wien 1010 Opernring
Time: To be announced
Contact: Kurt Krikler, Kurt.Krickler@hosiwien.at

Warsaw, Poland
Location: 22 Królowej Aldony Street
Time: 9 P.M.
Contact: Lukasz Palecki, luke.santi@eranet.pl

Washington, District of Columbia
Location: Dupont Circle Fountain
Time: 5:00 pm
Contact: Rob Anderson, rcand@mac.com


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