— Doug Ireland
Translator’s note: The formation of the new organization, “Homosexual Students at Iran’s Universities” is a courageous act. Below are large excerpts from a statement which this organization issued on the occasion of Students’ Day. For more information about queer organizing in Iran, please see “Twelve Men Face Execution for Sodomy in Iran” by Doug Ireland, published in Gay City News
Please also contact Hossein Alizadeh, Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator at International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
Statement by Homosexual Students at Iran’s Universities
Translated by Frieda Afary
December 6, 2009
This year’s commemoration of December 7, significantly differs in nature from previous years. This December 7 is being shaped anew, not as necessitated by the calendar, but as necessitated by conditions that have set the stage for protest movements.
We cannot stop still or go backward. We cannot commemorate this event in a routine way. Just as we gave new political meaning to Qods Day, and appropriated November 3, so our preservation of December 7 as a commemoration which belongs to the student movement, denudes this day of its official title in order to make it an event once again. [Qods day refers to September 18, a day designated by Ayatollah Khomeini as Jerusalem Day. November 3, refers to the anniversary of the take over of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. This year, the Green Movement transformed both events into protests against the government and in defense of democracy and human rights –tr].
After five decades, the rise of a revolution, and the emergence of a people’s movement, December 7, the symbol of protest against a regime backed by the July 1953 coup, now confronts the June 12, 2009 coup [The July 1953 CIA-sponsored coup deposed the democratically elected government of prime minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, and returned Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi to power—tr] This year, the distinguishing factor is that the forces of the people are intertwined in the context of these [December 7] protests. Students are no longer starry-eyed in their socio-political struggle. Prior to the people’s protest against dictatorship and lawlessness under the Islamic Republic, students might have felt isolated in their opposition to dictatorship. Now, however, the student movement takes place in the context of a society which demands an end to dictatorship, and is untainted by superficiality and narrow-mindedness.
Due to the depth of social perception in the student body, and an extensive grasp of human rights and civil rights, student demands are now linked to women’s demands on the one hand and workers’ demands on the other. This dual link has been achieved not only on the basis of theoretical knowledge but also on the basis of practical experience.
On the other hand, the student movement includes the demands of homosexuals. These demands represent a transgression of deeply rooted cultural boundaries which impede social tolerance.
The presence of minorities within the student body, limits the possibility of monopolization. . . . Students who may have different names, are part of the people. Their multiple presence on a variety of fronts continues to shake the weak foundation of the regime and challenges its security. The student movement is not green throughout. It also includes other colors. However, the breadth of the instinctual drive for equality among the people of the Green Movement, has compelled other colors to accommodate to it. We hope that the social right to self-determination of a people who wish to live within the framework of human rights and not any type of ideological dictatorship, will be placed in the hands of the people themselves. The students will not monopolize December 7.
Homosexual Students at Iran’s Universities, publish their third statement on the occasion of a December 7 commemoration which might signify the last gasps of a coup-backed government.
Considering that a significant number of university students are also queers, and considering that the active part of the queer community in Iran consists of university students and university graduates, it is not too late to correct the intolerant and inappropriate drafts of the constitution, in order to guarantee that the perspectives of the representatives of the Green Movement do not fall short of the perspectives of the rank and file of the people’s movement.[The authors of this statement do not cite the specific drafts to which they refer. A draft presented by the “Lawyers of the Iranian People’s Green Movement” does recognize the rights of people regardless of gender, religion, nationality and race, but makes no mention of sexual orientation—tr. The Persian text can be viewed online at http://greenlawyers.wordpress.com/2009/11/08/constitution-1/ A brief summary in English is available at http://persian2english.wordpress.com/2009/10/23/unity-proposal-for-democratization-of-iran-]
Another milestone achieved by this year’s December 7 commemoration was the student body’s deep comprehension of the concept of human rights. It is crucial to remind the readers that the student movement and the women’s movement have captivated a larger portion of Iranian society because these movements are more tolerant and think more deeply.
At a time when two human rights organizations in Iran --which consist of students-- have been courageous and forthright in taking up the rights of minorities and especially sexual minorities who have been excluded from civil rights protection, the representatives of the Green Movement who are devising the outlines of the new constitution, avoid mentioning the rights of minorities. If we do not pay attention, the first opportunity for correcting the defects of the constitution will lead not to reform but to a future imprisoned by prejudice and exclusion.
On the eve of December 7, and at a time when the Green Movement of the people has come to signify fresh air for a repressed society, students who give their all to this movement, do so to make sure that the passion for life is not crushed under the boots of dictatorship.
Homosexual Students at Iran’s Universities who have not been promised any share of political power or fame, would like to send a message to the Green Movement in the spirit of solidarity and kinship. The demands of the people, rooted only in the necessity to abide by human rights and civil rights, are greater than all the demands which the leaders of the Green Movement utter in honor of the [1979 –tr] revolution.
Mr. Karroubi and Mr. Mousavi, Mrs. Rahnavard, students and families, on this December 7, keep the Green Movement dynamic by making a statement about the human rights demands of all the people of Iran. The movement needs more than the blood of the youth to survive. The movement needs a timely declaration of its exact, explicit, and human rights-based demands, in order to defend your lives and your social rights. Let us all be together.
Homosexual Students at Iran’s Universities
For Freedom and Equality