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June 28, 2006

GLOBAL PROTESTS JULY 19 TO COMMEMORATE HANGING OF 2 IRANIAN TEENS (Updated)

Iran_teens_deadUpdated July 18 -- At least 27 cities in the U.S., Europe, and Canada have already organized events for July 19, the International Day of Action Against Homophobic Persecution in Iran. The original call to action for July 19 was initiated jointly by the militant British gay rights group OutRage and the Paris-based International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) for world-wide demonstrations on July 19, the first anniversary of the public hanging in Iran of two gay teens, Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni. Photos of the execution of the two boys, who were hanged in the public square of the city of Mashad last year (photo above left), created international outrage when they were widely circulated on the Internet, and focused the world’s attention on Iran’s ongoing, lethal reign of terror targeting Iranian gays.

Protests have already been scheduled for the anniversary of the teens’ execution in a number of large European cities, including London, Moscow, Frankfurt, Milan, Marseille, Amsterdam, Vienna, Dublin, Stockholm, and Brussels.

Local gay groups and ad hoc committees have already scheduled U.S. events in San Francisco, San Diego, , Washington, D.C., Seattle, Fort Lauderdale, Salt Lake City, Sioux Falls (So. Dakota), Tulsa (Oklahoma), Chicago, and Provincetown for July 19. And there will be commemorative meetings in Toronto and Vancouver in Canada.(A list of all those demonstrations and events in the U.S. and around the world, with contacts, is at the bottom of this post).

The call for global demonstrations has also been endorsed by the Persian Gay and Pglo_logo_9 Lesbian Organization (PGLO), the largest Iranian gay group, which has secretariats in several European countries and Canada. “We enthusiastically support the call for demonstrations on July 19, and we are very grateful to our brothers and sisters for organizing these demonstrations for our beleaguered Iranian gay people,” Arsham Parsi (left)Arsham_parsi_ii , human rights secretary of the PGLO, told Gay City News from his base in Toronto, where he and local gay organizations are organizing a demonstration..

The PGLO has also asked all its members in Iran to display lighted candles in their windows on July 19 in memory of the two hanged Iranian lads -- "That's about all we can ask our members in Iran to do safely without bringing down persecution on their heads from the regime's police and the homo-hating paramilitary basiji thugs who work for the ayatollahs," Parsi said.

The New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, which had both endorsed the call for world-wide demonstrations and had announced it was taking the lead to organize a New York City demonstration in front of the Iranian Mission to the U.N., has withdrawn from the demonstration. As a result, a local ad hoc committee has taken over the organization of the New York City action. Its members (the list is in formation) include Andy Humm and Ann Northrop, Gay USA cable TV news; Walter Armstrong, POZ magazine; Sandy Rapp, Lesbian feminist singer-writer; Rosario Dawson, actor-activist; Doric Wilson, Playwright; Martin Duberman, Professor Emeritus, City University of New York; Church Ladies for Choice. Allen Roskoff, president, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club; the Stonewall Democratic Club; the Metropolitan Community Church of N.Y.; Darren Rosenblum, Associate Professor, Pace Law School; Larry Kramer, writer-activist; John Berendt, author, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" and "City of Falling Angels"; Lawrence D. Mass, M.D., physician, writer, activist, co-founder of Gay Men's Health Crisis; Arnie Kantrowitz, prof. emeritus, College of Staten Island, CUNY, and author, "Under the Rainbow: Growing Up Gay"; Sean Strub, founder, POZ magazine; Kenneth Sherill, Professor, Political Science, Hunter College, CUNY; Wayne Besen, Executive Director, Truth Wins Out; Rev. Pat Bumgartner, pastor, Metropolitan Community Church; Rick Shur; Andrew Berman; Frank Jump, educator, artist, activist; Vincenzo Aiosa, same-sex marriage activist; State Senator Tom Duane; Ethan Geto, Geto & DeMilly Inc.; Joe Kennedy, Gay Activists Alliance veteran; Dirk McCall, President, Stonewall Democratic Club; -- more names to come.

LATEST ENDORSEMENTS: The July 19 events have now been endorsed by the International Lesbian and Gay Association, which has called on all its 400 member associations and groups in 90 countries to organize events -- vigils, demonstrations, rallies, candlelight parades -- on the 19th. More endorsements of the Call to Action for July 19 are coming in every day. Among the latest to join the July 19 movement is the Dutch gay organization COC (the world's oldest LGBT organization), which has agreed to help organize the Amsterdam event at the city's famous Homomonument (erected to honor the thousands of homosexuals who died in Nazi concentration camps during World War II); Tupilak, the association of lesbian and gay cultural workers in the Nordic area, which has taken the lead in organizing a demonstration at the Iranian embassy in Stockholm (with support from the Nordic Homo Council, Nordic Rainbow Humanists, and International Lesbian & Gay Cultural Network Information Secretariat); and the website Gay Egypt.. Also, Gay Russia.ru, which organized the banned Moscow Pride 2006 demonstration, and Nicolas Alexeyev (the organizer of Moscow Pride who was arrested during their demonstration) are organizing a July 19 demonstration in Moscow. And the Austrian gay group HOSI (Homosexuelle Initiative) Wien has announced it will organize a demonstration in Vienna. In the U.S. in South Florida, Fort Lauderdale's Independent Gay News is taking the lead in organizing a demonstration there. And in Seattle, Washington, the local weekly newspaper, Seattle Gay News and its editor, George Bakan, are organizing a commemorative meeting. The July 19 Day of Action has also been endorsed by the Campaign for Peace and Democracy.

The newest city to announce an event is Milan, Italy, where it is being organized by the youth section of ARCIIGAY, the national lesbian and gay association. Fabio Saccà, the youth coordinator for ARCIGAY, reports, "Many delegations of youth NGOS addressing minority issues will join and endorse the event, including the Italian Muslim Youth Association. The event is meant to be not only an occasion to celebrate history or to assert rights and protection for LGBT people in Iran, but also serve as a bridge for intercultural cooperation among youth organizations. This event will take
place under the framework of the newly-launched European Youth Campaign: All
Different, All Equal. (www.alldifferent-allequal.info)"

In Dublin, Ireland, the event is spearheaded by the gay youth group BeLonG To Youth -- and organizers, who have put together an impressive list of speakers, say their center city rally may be so large it will stop traffic. Mexico City's July 19 event is being organized by the gay Mexican magazine Enkidu. Warsaw, too, will have a candlelight vigil on July 19 to protest the friendship pact between Poland and Iran -- their slogan will be "PAMIETAMY!" (meaning, "We remember!") In Marseille, France, the demonstration is being organized by a coalition of 15 gay organizations. In Bogota, Colombia, the LGBT group Colombia Diversa is collecting signatures on a petition protesting repressive measures against homosexuals and will deliver them to the Iranian Embassy in Bogota on July 19. And in the small English West Country town of Gloucester, the event will begin with a minute of silence for the two hanged teens and all other victims of Iranian persecution.

At the same time, a new report on the hangings of the two Iranian gay teens, based on sources inside Iran, prepared by Simon Forbes, and issued by OutRage, further refutes the claims by the Islamic Republic of Iran that the boys were guilty of rape, and instead demonstrates that they were victims of a legal “honor killing” initiated by a family member of one of the boys who disapproved of their homosexuality. Gay City News also had refuted the Tehran regime’s claims about the rape allegations against the two lads in its reporting on the hangings last year ( to read one of those reports, click here.

“Local sources in Mashad state that Mahmoud and Ayaz were lovers, not rapists or child abusers – contrary to the homophobic propaganda of the Iranian regime,” says the OutRage report. “Witnesses report seeing them together and obviously in love at a private party in 2003,” the year before their arrest. “Mahmoud and Ayaz were charged with the capital crime of homosexuality after a disapproving family member reported their relationship to the police,” the report adds.

Commented OutRage founder and coordinator Peter Tatchell, “In publicised executions of gay couples, the men are often accused of the kidnap and rape of a Peter_tatchell_good_1 younger male. All such allegations need to be treated with extreme skepticism, as they tend to follow a suspiciously stereotypical formula.” Tatchell (left) added, By instituting charges of kidnap and rape, the Iranian authorities apparently hope to discredit the victims, discourage public protests and deflect international condemnation. They calculate that there will be little Iranian or international sympathy for people hanged for crimes like abduction and sexual assault.” Similar warnings from gay Iranians inside Iran have been documented by this reporter (for example, read this report from Gay City News last year.)

As to the age of the two gay victims, “At first it was claimed by Iranian officials that they were aged 18 and 19, then that they were 19 and 21, then aged 18 and 20, and finally Irangay_teens_17 they made the claim that they were both above 18 at the time of their alleged crimes. However,” the OutRage report says, “ the best evidence is that both youths were aged 17 when they were executed and therefore minors, aged 15 or 16, at the time of their alleged crimes. This execution of minors is in flagrant breach of international agreements the Tehran regime has signed.” (Left, Mahmoud and Ayaz on the scaffold last year)

In calling for global demonstrations, the coordinator and founder of IDAHO, Louis-George Tin (right), a black French university professor, said, “Something special has Louisgeoirge_tin_3_1 happened since 19 July 2005: an international movement is emerging in solidarity with the two boys and all the victims of Iran’s homophobic regime. The political and religious authorities in Iran should understand that their homophobia is now regarded as an international scandal.”

Tin added, “On 19 July, we are standing for life, for liberty, and for love. We are standing in commemoration of Mahmoud and Ayaz and all the victims of Tehran’s homophobic tyranny. We also stand in hope, looking forward to a better future for the gays and lesbians of Iran." (For a profile of Louis-GeorgeTin, "Going Global on Gay Rights," click here.)

The joint IDAHO-OutRage appeal for international demonstrations, entitled “An Iran_tidmus_poster_1_stop_killing_6 International Day of Action Against Homophobic Persecution in Iran” -- whose slogan is "Stop Killing Gays! Stop Killing Kids!" --  includes a five-point list of its goals:

“1. End all executions in Iran, especially the execution of minors.

“2. Stop the arrest, torture and imprisonment of Iranian lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and repeal the Iranian penal code’s criminalization of same-sex relationships.

“3. Halt the deportation to Iran of LGBT asylum seekers and other victims of Tehran’s persecution.

“4. Support Iranians struggling for democracy, social justice and human rights.

“5. Oppose foreign military intervention in Iran; regime change must come from within – by and for the Iranian people themselves.”

Although IGLHRC has stepped forward to organize a demonstration in New York City, some U.S. gay activists are critical of the absence of the other national U.S. gay organizations from the July 19 protests. “American gay rights organizations should devote more energy to tackling homophobic persecution beyond our borders,” said San Francisco’s Michael Petrelis, organizer of a demonstration scheduled there for 5:00 P.M. at Harvey Milk Plaza. The protests on July 19 are a step towards greater US support for the global struggle for queer freedom,“ Petrelis said, adding, “Last year, only one American city joined last year’s the international protests against Iran's hanging of the two gay teenagers. We hope more cities will join us and organize vigils for gay and lesbian Iranians.”

I originally rote the above article (subsequently expanded and updated for this blog) for Gay City News -- New York's largest gay weekly -- in whose June 19 edition it appeared.. GCN also carried an editorial endorsing the demonstrations., in which the newspaper's editors notably declared: "Gay City News believes that it would be shameful and tragic if—in the city where the modern gay movement began with the Stonewall Rebellion 37 years ago—the LGBT community remained silent and immobile in the face of the lethal wave of anti-gay repression unfolding in Iran."

Below is a list (as of now) of cities and contacts where we have details on July 19 demonstrations and events which have been organized (more are joining the list every day):

New York --  Location: Iranian Mission to the U.N., 622 Third Avenue (at 40th St.) Iranwe_say_no Time: 5:00 P.M.  Contact: Andy Humm, Andyhumm@aol.com 

Washington, D.C. -- Location: DuPont Circle Time: 5:00 P.M. Contact: Rob Anderson rcand@mac.com, Tel.  work (202) 508-4446 home (202) 550-8812

Provincetown -- Location: Town Hall Square Time: 5-6 PM Contact: Andrew Sullivan, andsul@aol.com

San Diego -- Location: U.S. Federal Building Time: 4:00 pm Contact: Michael Mussman, michaelmussman@yahoo.com

San Francisco -- Location: Harvey Milk Plaza, Castro and Market Streets Time: 5:00 pm Contact: Michael Petrelis, mpetrelis@aol.com

Fort Lauderdale-Broward County (South Florida) -- details to be announced soon Contact: Michael James, Editor, Independent Gay News, MJames@OurIndependent.com  Telephone 954.563.0470

Sioux Falls, South Dakota -- Location: Calvary Cathedral, 500 S. Main Avenue
Time: 9:00 pm Contact: Kathy Knobloch, thecenter.colc@midconetwork.com 

Seattle, Washington -- Location: Seattle Central Community College Plaza, Pine and BroadwayTime: 7:00 pm
Contact: George Bakan, editor, Seattle Gay News, sgn2@sgn.org

Chicago – Location: Vigil at Millennium Park (Pritzker Pavilion entrance).
Time: 5:30. Contact: Gay Liberation Network, LGBTliberation@aol.com

Tulsa, Oklahoma -- Location: Tulsa County Courthouse Place, Vigil Time: 8:30 PM Contact: Laura Belmonte, Tulsa Oklahomans for Human Rights (TOHR), mobile 918-906-2134

Salt Lake City -- Location: GLBT Community Center Youth Activity Center, 355 North 300 West Time: 6:30 P.M. Contact: Rachel McNeil, rachel@glbtccu.org

Toronto -- Location: University of Torontdo, Hart House, Music Room, 7 Hart House Circle. Toronto, Ontario Time: 5-9 P.M. Speakers will include Arsham Parsi, Human Rights Secretary of the Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization (PGLO) and an Iranian exile, and local gay and political leaders. Contact: pglo@pglo.net

Vancouver --  Location: Vancouver Art Gallery - Robson Plaza Time: 6:00 p.m. Contact: Finn Kovaltsenko, aidengreer@shaw.ca

Dublin --  Location: Dublin City Centre, The Central Bank, Dame Street Time: 5.30pm, Speakers to include Senator David Norris Contact: BeLonG To Youth Project, belongto@eircom.net telephone 01-8734184;

Mexico City -- Location (Lugar): Contempo Cine, Address (Direccion): Londres 161, 1er piso; entre Florencia y Amberes; Time: (Miercoles 19 de julio/)Wednesday Hora: 19:00 Hrs Contact: Enkidu Magazine, info@enkidumagazine.com, Telephone 044 55 2517 5098

Bogota, Colombia -- Petitions of protest against anti-gay repression, for which the LGBT group Columbia Diversa gathered signatures, will be delivered to the Iranian embassy in Bogota. Contact: Andrew Dier, andrewdier@yahoo.com

Milan, Italy -- Location: Corso Magenta 39, in front of the palace where the European Union Commission has its offices Time: 18:30 (6:30 PM) Contact: Fabio Sacca, ARCIGAY youth coordinator, giovani@arcigay.it., Tel. 39-349-1777-021

Warsaw -- Location: Candle-light vigil, 22 Królowej Aldony street Time: 9 P.M. Contact: Lukasz Palucki, luke.santi@eranet.pl

Amsterdam -- Location: Homomonument (Keizersgracht canal near Westerkerk)Time: 10 P.M. Contact: René van Soeren of COC, rvansoeren@coc.nl, and Mike Tidmus, tidmus@mac.com

The Hague (Netherlands) -- Location: Iranian Embassy to The Netherlands Time: 1:00-2:00 P.M. Organized by COC, Contact: René van Soeren of COC, rvansoeren@coc.nl

London: -- Location: House of Commons, Committee Room 12 Guest Speakers:Chris_bryant_mp  openly gay Labour Party Member of Parliament Chris Bryant MP (photo right), Jean Lambert MEP, Iranian gay activists, Simon Forbes and Peter Tatchell Time: 6:30 pm Contacts: Peter Tatchell, peter@tatchell.freeserve.co.uk & Brett Lock, brettlock@gmail.com

Stockholm -- Location: Iranian Embassy, Elfviksvägen Västra Yttringe gård Lidingö Time: 5:00 P.M. (17:00) Contact: Bill Schiller, bill.schiller@sr.se (Supported by Tupilak, Nordic Homo Council, Nordic Rainbow Humanists, and International Lesbian & Gay Cultural Network Information Secretariat)

Marseille -- Location: Le Vieux Port Time: 7 PM (19h) Sponsored by a collective of 15 gay organizations. Contact: Philippe Colomb (philippe.colomb@si-lgbt.org) and Hussein Bourgi (husseinbourgi@hotmail.com)

Moscow -- Location and Time to be announced in Moscow at the last minute, to prevent disruption by fascists or police. Contact: Nicolas Alexeyev, GayRussia.ru and nicolas_alexeyev@yahoo.com

Brussels -- Location: Brussels Stock Exchange Time:8 PM to 11PM (20h a 23h) Contact: Stephen Barris, ILGA stephenbarris@ilga.org

Vienna -- Location: Office of IranAir (official airline of the Islamic Republic of Iran), A-Wien 1010 Opernring; Time: to be announced Contact: HOSI Wien and Bettina Nemeth, Obfrau Tel. 0699-11965265; Christian Högl, Obmann Tel. 0699-11811038; Kurt Krickler, Tel. (01) 5451310 oder 0664-5767466
office@hosiwien.at.: 5245 34 408
ZVR-Nr

Gloucester, U.K. -- Location: The Coach and Horses “gay” pub, Saint Catherines Street, Gloucester. Time: 8:00 PM

IF YOUR CITY HAS NOT YET SCHEDULED A JULY 19 DEMONSTRATION, ORGANIZE ONE! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

For background on the new wave of anti-gay repression in Iran, see my previous articles: July 21, 2005 -- Iran Executes Two Gay Teenagers (Updated); August 11 -- Iran Sources Question Rape Charges in Teen Executions; August 12 -- Two New Gay Executions Scheduled in Iran, Says Iranian Exile Group; August 17 -- Iran's Deadly Anti-Gay Crackdown: With Two More Executions Scheduled, the Pace of Repression Steps Up.August 25 -- Iran's Anti-Gay Purge Grows: Reports of New Executions. September 8 -- Iran and the Death of Gay Activism. September 20 -- "They'll Kill Me" -- A Gay Iranian Torture Victim Speaks of His Ordeal ; September 29 -- Iranian Gays Urgently Appeal for Help ; October 5 --"Shocking New Photo of Hanging of Gay Iranian Teens"; October 6 -- Canada Introduces UN Resolution Condemning Iran's Human Rights Record; November 24, "Save Us"-- A Gay Iranian Who Married His Partner Begs for Help from the West ; January 12, 2006 -- "Kidnapped: Another Gay Iranian Torture Victim Speaks"; January 4, 2006 -- "Iran's Anti-Gay Pogrom"; January 27, 2006 -- "A Call to Solidarity: U.S. Gay Groups Must End Their Isolationism; February 8, 2006 -- "An Iranian Trans Torture Victim Speaks from Inside Iran."  February 9, 2006--Stop the Deportation of Saba Rawi; March 3, 2006-- "Dutch to End Freeze on Deportation of Gay Iranians"; March 4, 2006-- "Commotion in Dutch Parliament Over Deportation of Gay Iranians."; March 16, 2006-- "England: Another Gay Iranian Faces Deportation"; April 20, 2006-- "Dutch Deportations of Gay Iranians on Hold"; April 26, 2006-- "iran Hacks Websites to Bury Anti-Gay Pogrom"; May 31, 2006-- "Iran Exports Anti-Gay Pogrom to Iraq"; June 14, 2006-- "An Iranian Gay Activist's Moving Plea."  June 25, 2006 -- "Iran's Gay Refugees Find a Safe Haven in Canada."

Also, don't miss Rob Anderson's excellent article in the New Republic, "How America's Gay Rights Establishment is Failing Gay Iranians."

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