A young Iranian gay man was killed in an alleged anti-LGBTQ account after his family members discovered he was gay, according to 6Rang, an Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network.
Ali Fazeli Monfared, 20, of southwest Iran, known as Alireza by close friends and family, was killed in what activists and experts called an “honor killing,” or an act of violence against a relative for disgracing the family. The victim’s sexuality was revealed after his brother found his military exemption card that said he was absolved from the military because he was an LGBTQ person, according to 6Rang.
Due to growing pressure from family members and anti-LGBTQ culture, Monfared was preparing to flee his home country to live with his partner in Turkey, BBC Persian reported. Instead, male family members allegedly kidnapped him and brought him to a rural town near Ahvaz, where they beheaded him and subsequently notified his mother, according to NBC News. While 6Rang noted that police arrested three individuals in connection to Monfared’s death, Amin told NBC that no arrests have been made.
In a statement, Gissou Nia, a human rights lawyer and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council Strategic Litigation Project, said homophobia often leads to deadly violence in the country.
“Cultural attitudes in society towards homosexuality are a literal life or death problem,” Nia said. “What compounds the problem is when the laws of a state do not provide any protection.”
RIP Alireza Fazeli Monfared 💔
Brutally killed and disposed of by his family because of his sexuality.
Cultural attitudes in society towards homosexuality are a literal life or death problem. What compounds the problem is when the laws of a state do not provide any protection. pic.twitter.com/rycx8WdELm
— Gissou Nia/ گیسو نیا (@GissouNia) May 8, 2021
In Iran, same-sex relations are illegal and are criminalized through corporal punishment, imprisonment, and even death. Additionally, an anti-LGBTQ law labels LGBTQ individuals as mentally ill and bans them from enlisting in the military. In a statement on Twitter, Nia demanded that legislators pass comprehensive non-discrimination protections and repeal measures targeting the LGBTQ community.
“The explicit criminalization of these acts contributes to an intense sense of fear and shame for individuals who wish to be themselves and live freely,” Nia wrote in a Tweet. “It also creates a culture of impunity for families who frown upon their LGBTQI family members.”
In a statement, 6Rang acknowledged the dangers posed to gay men in Iran, but also said “gay women, along with the Iranian trans community, experience all kinds of violence and coercion on a daily basis.”
“6rang would first like to offer its condolences to Alireza’s family and friends,” the group wrote in a statement. “We cannot imagine the pain that you are feeling, and we want you to know that we stand in solidarity with you. Additionally, 6rang hereby declares that it will work tirelessly to ensure that there will be a thorough investigation into Alireza’s murder and will continue the work of bringing the cultural and legal roots of this evil in Iranian society to light.”
The group added, “6rang calls upon everyone to utilize this horrendous tragedy as motivation to make long-overdue demands and inquiries into the human rights abuses towards the Iranian LGBTQI community.”
To sign up for the Gay City News email newsletter, visit gaycitynews.com/newsletter