[ExI] Iran's plan for their gay population

Stefano Vaj stefano.vaj at gmail.com
Sun May 31 18:14:47 UTC 2009

On Sun, May 31, 2009 at 1:51 PM, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
> 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.

In my experience, there is an incredible confusion about Iran legal
and cultural norms, many people assuming that radical Islam there
implies a kind of Saudi-style context.

Now, homosexuality is forbidden (even though I do not have any
information as to the reality of its prosecution: see the laws about
adultery or oral sex or witchcraft that  a few US states may still not
have abrogated). It is true that the dealt penalty is relatively
frequent, even though a very moderate rate of crimes exist in
comparison with many western countries. It is true that you cannot
book a hotel room with somebody of the opposite sex you are not
married with.

OTOH, how many people know that you can enter into temporary marriage
agreements, ranging from one day to 99 years? Of course, when you
enter into a marriage of the former duration, you can expect the
officer celebrating it to rotate his eyes, since he knows only too
well your immediate purpose. Divorce is of course applicable even to
marriages of an indefinite duration - even though it may take "up to a
year" (compare that to 3 to 5 in Italy) in legal formalities; and it
carries no social stigma for either spouse.

Abortion? "Ah, no, abortion is not free, according  to Iranian law it
must be administered by a licensed physician" (answer offered with a
straight, albeit slightly embarassed, face by an Iranian lawyer;
compare that with the requirement to go through a public hospital and
some necessary, humiliating bureaucratic steps in Italy).

Stem cells? Where's the problem? An embryo does not even have a soul,
according to a dominant islamic doctrine, until the third or fourth
month of pregnancy. Biotechnology? Genetic engineering? Where does the
Qu'ran says anything against that?

Evolution: the Bible is actually a part of the islamic holy
scriptures, and muslims tend to be literalists. But they also have the
doctrine of the "corruption of the voice of god" and of the "newer
truth superseding older claims", so that the entire Genesis is largely
discredited, the Qu'ran itself being much more friendly to
evolutionary biology. In fact, the few muslim creationists in
existence are not Iranian at all, but... Turks!

Alcohol? No prohibitionism in place. You are free to get drunk in the
privacy of your home. Simply, you cannot drink in public places (same
as in the US), or in places which are open to the public, such as
restaurants and bars, on the line of the current trend about tobacco
in the West; and in any event, it is not socially acceptable to get to
a party in an obviously inebriated state.

Women? Why, burkas being unknown there, they have nevertheless to keep
at least a few hair covered in public, as in other countries at least
part of the breasts is required to be, nothing which can prevent them
showing off the creations of their hair stylists, make-up artists,
etc. Many of them are college students, medicine doctors, managers,
journalists, or candidates in the upcoming presidential elections
(politics being a big deal there, and a passion for a large part of a
population which vote starting at 16 in very high percentage), more
than in Japan or in Korea, for that matter. And they are often around
by themselves, including at night, owing also to the relatively high
security of live Tehran in comparison with other cities of 12 million

Having said that, would I live in Iran? Certainly not. But for that
matter I would live even less in many countries which are the darlings
of the western governments...

Stefano Vaj

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