Peter Tatchell reports:
Nearly 600 people – both straight and gay – joined last night’s
demonstration in London in solidarity with the Iranian people’s mass
protests for democracy and human rights.
The rally was held outside the Iranian Embassy and included a gay
contingent comprising members of OutRage!, Iraqi LGBT and gay Muslims.
“Although there were a few awkward looks, we received a mostly warm
welcome from the predominantly straight Iranian protesters,” said
human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, who had encouraged
people to turnout on Thursday night, to coincide with the mass
protests in Tehran the same day.
“Some thanked us for joining the demonstration; others specifically
emphasised their support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
(LGBT) rights. It was a very positive move to have a visible gay
presence at the rally. I think we generated considerable goodwill from
many of those in attendance.
“We joined the protest to show our solidarity with the heroic freedom
struggle of the Iranian people.
“We support Iranian LGBTs who demand an end to state-sponsored
homophobia, including the repeal of laws that result in the arrest,
imprisonment, flogging and execution of queers.
“We also support Iran’s defiant women’s rights activists, the jailed
trade unionists, the beaten and murdered students, the persecuted
Baha’is and Sunni Muslims, and Iran’s oppressed ethnic minorities, the
Arabs, Kurds, Baluchs and Azeris. Their struggle is our struggle,
because human rights are universal.
“At a speech at Columbia University in New York in 2007, the man who
claims the Iranian presidency after the recent disputed election,
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, boasted that there are ‘no gays’ in Iran.
“But now in his latest broadside against the pro-democracy protesters
in Tehran, he has accused his political opponents of ‘officially
recognising thieves, homosexuals and scumbags’ in order to win their
votes. The old tyrant has let the cat of the bag. Gay people exist in
Iran and they - and millions of others - voted against him. Hurrah!”
said Mr Tatchell.