By Reza Parchizadeh
A court in Iran tried a gender activist on the charge of acting against national security by trying to normalize same-sex relationships. This is the first time someone has been tried on that charge in Iran.
According to the Iranian lesbian and transgender network group 6rang, Rezvaneh Mohammadi, an activist in the field of gender equality, went on trial on Sunday, February 17 at Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court headed by the notorious Judge Moghiseh. According to 6rang, Ms. Mohammadi’s lawyer was neither allowed access to her client’s case nor to defend her during trial.
Mohammadi was arrested on September 3, 2018 and was interrogated for 26 days at the Detention Center 209. She was then transferred to Evin Prison on September 29. Finally, on October 20, she was temporarily released on a bail of 150 million toomans until the time of her trial. Mohammadi was finally charged with “acting against national security through efforts to normalize homosexual relationships,” a charge that might land her five years of imprisonment.
Mohammadi’s plight was widely publicized by US Ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, who tweeted: “Iranian student Rezvaneh Mohammadi was charged with ‘acting against national security by normalizing homophile relationships.’
Iranian student Rezvaneh Mohammadi was charged with “acting against national security by normalizing homophile relationships.” #humanrights #universaldeclaration #un #71countriesstilloutlawit #speakup
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) March 2, 2019
In a bid aimed in part at denouncing the Iranian regime over its bleak human rights record, especially in response to the recent execution by hanging of a young gay man in Iran, the Trump administration recently launched a global campaign to end the criminalization of homosexuality in dozens of nations where it is illegal. Richard Grenell, the highest-profile openly gay person in the Trump administration, is leading the effort.
It should be noted that during recent months, a new wave of government crackdown on civil rights activists has swept Iran. Along with Mohammadi (gender studies student), three other female rights activists Najmeh Vahedi (sociologist), Hoda Amid (lawyer), and Maryam Azad (women’s rights activist) were arrested last September. Amid and Vahedi are said to have held “educational workshops for marriage” for interested women.
According to HRANA, at the time more than 750 civil activists inside and outside Iran protested against the increasing pressure on women’s rights activists in Iran in a statement calling for the immediate and unconditional release of those arrested.
Human Rights Watch also issued a statement urging the Iranian authorities to end the crackdown on human rights defenders, including Hoda Amid and Najmeh Vahedi, and immediately release those activists who had apparently been arrested for their peaceful criticism of the system.
Amnesty International also called on Iranian authorities to stop the crackdown on civil society and the illegal detention of lawyers and human rights activists, demanding that the regime release those individuals immediately and ensure that every detainee had access to a lawyer.