Iranian LGBTs hold panel in Istanbul as a part of pride week

Hundreds of protesters and gay rights activists took to Istanbul’s iconic İstiklal Avenue for the 5th annual Trans Pride march on June 22, one week ahead of the annual LGBTI Pride march. DHA Photo

Hundreds of protesters and gay rights activists took to Istanbul’s iconic İstiklal Avenue for the 5th annual Trans Pride march on June 22, one week ahead of the annual LGBTI Pride march. DHA Photo

 Hurriyet Daily News: A panel organized by Iranian LBGTs was held on June 26 as a part of the annual Istanbul LGBTI Pride Week, bringing the problems of gays, lesbians, trans and intersex people in Turkey’s eastern neighbor to the table.

Shadi Amin, the coordinator of the Iranian lesbian and transgender network 6rang, former Iran justice researcher Raha Bahreyni, and “Roma,” an Iranian citizen currently working at the LambdaIstanbul LGBT solidarity association, attended the panel held in Cezayir Hall in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district.

6rang coordinator Amin said they were continuing their fight in Turkey and Istanbul as it was the nearest possible spot to Iran. “We want to tell Iran that we are everywhere,” she said.

The panel touched on the fact that many LGBTs come to Turkey from Iran to escape punishment, which can include death sentences or flogging, as homosexuality is legally considered a disease that must be treated.

Rates of gender reassignment surgery in Iran are reportedly five or eight times higher than in Western Europe and North America, with 1,366 people applying for such surgery in the country between 2006 and 2010.

Bahreyni, who conducted a three-year study on the experiences of 88 gay, lesbians and trans people in Iran, said surgery was more common in Iran as people who do not cohere to the norms of the general public there are driven to take more drastic action. He added that Iranian LGBTs are sometimes subjected to electroshock or hormone therapy, or are forced to engage in unwanted sexual intercourse in the name of “treatment.”

“Roma” said that LGBTs who have fled Iran face double security problems, both due to their sexual identities and the fact that they are refugees.

June/27/2014