[ExI] Iran's plan for their gay population

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Sun May 31 11:51:54 UTC 2009

2009/5/31 John Grigg <possiblepaths2050 at gmail.com>:
> What Iran is doing to their gay population almost seems the stuff of a
> science fiction novel about a really twisted dystopia...
> "Iranian-born herself, the New York-based filmmaker learned that in Iran,
> homosexuality is a crime punishable by death. But the government has
> provided a way out for the nation’s gays and lesbians: a sex-change
> operation. Fully paid for by the state, the procedure would allow these
> people to conform to Iran’s theocratic standards of sexuality."
> “Her point was that there are rules and rules are there to help you. If you
> start cross-dressing before your operation, you bring the problems with the
> police upon yourself. Islamic Iran and the Christian Right have so much in
> common —it’s just surprising that they’re not better friends.”

An Iranian doctor I know told me about sex change operations in Iran
when I made an assumption about how the patient we were discussing, a
transsexual, would not have been tolerated in her country. In Iran,
she explained, patients could have the operation if they were
diagnosed with Gender Identity Disorder, using the same DSM-IV
criteria as are used in Western countries. It was acknowledged even by
the religious authorities that these people couldn't help being born
with a mismatch between their brain's gender and their chromosomes'
gender, which is what GID is, and which is a much more enlightened
view than the majority of fundamentalist Christians. So if these
people really want a sex change operation, after jumping through a
number of hoops, they can get one; and whether they have an operation
or not, the law protects them from persecution, even though there is
still a huge amount of social stigma. On the other hand, homosexuality
remains against the law, in some cases punishable by death. But just
as in many Western countries where homosexuality was until a few years
ago a capital offence or punishable by long prison terms, the law
isn't really enforced if people keep their sexual relationships
private. So the Iranians are on a par with the most enlightened
Western states when it comes to transsexuals, but a few decades behind
when it comes to homosexuals.

Stathis Papaioannou

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