Two activists who defended the rights of LGTBI people in Iran have been sentenced to death, in a trial without transparency and for which the grounds for the sentence are unknown, UN human rights experts said on Wednesday.
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Human rights defenders Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani and Elham Choubdar were prosecuted last August by the judicial authorities and on September 1 they were informed that they had been found guilty of the crimes of “corruption on the land” and human trafficking.
The twenty experts –specialized in the rights of women, non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and who investigate cases of arbitrary arrests– have asked the Iranian authorities not to carry out the executions and to annul the sentences. “The authorities must guarantee the health of both women and release them from their detention,” they say.
The Iranian legal system explicitly prohibits homosexuality and same-sex relationships, and transgressions carry the death penalty.
According to reliable source information received by UN experts, the charges against Sedighi-Hamadani and Choubdar had to do with their actions to combat discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Iran. The traffic charge would be directly related to the help that the convicted have given to people at risk from that group to leave the country.
After her arrest, in October 2021 Sedighi-Hamadani was missing for 53 days and suffered mistreatment and discriminatory insults in the Urumieh detention center, where she was held from October to December of that year, according to information cited by the experts.
“We ask Iran to no longer apply the death penalty or, at a minimum, limit its application to the most serious crimes,” the experts urge in a statement.
They also recalled that the Iranian authorities have a duty to ensure that all human rights defenders, including those working on highly sensitive issues such as sexual orientation and gender identity, are not themselves victims of persecution and revenge.