Iran: 'We are Everywhere: Gay and Lesbian Iranians Come Out on Facebook'
Iran's gay and lesbian community is struggling to win some recognition by coming out in defiance of a regime that criminalises homosexuality.
A group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Iranians have posted videos of themselves on Facebook in a campaign to highlight the discrimination against sexual minorities in Iran where homosexuals are put to death.
Hundreds of Iranians in and outside the country have joined a Facebook page, called "we are everywhere", which encourages members to share their personal stories online. Members of the campaign in Iran have posted audio messages or videos which do not reveal their identity while some outside talked about their sexual orientation freely.
"As a gay person, my biggest problem in Iran is that I cannot be my real self," said an Iranian gay man, only identified as Mehdi, who has posted a video online from inside Iran. "I always have to play a role. I always have to suppress my own existence and part of my identity and hide myself in fear from the society and potential problems that I might face."
In the video, Mehdi has shown his face from his mouth down. "Like this video, I always have to hide a part of myself from others in my life," he said.
Another video of an Iranian gay man, posted from outside the country, shows a man with his face out of the image, who has written his speech on a roll of kitchen towel which he scrolls down in front of camera. "I am an Iranian gay. I fear to show my real face, I fled Iran, I escaped from my own family, I was driven away from my country. Now, I am a gay refugee in Turkey and count the days, we are everywhere."
Turkey is home to many Iranian gay asylum seekers who have fled Iran through mountains. Many of them have complained that they have gone to Turkey to seek refuge but had been subject to homophobic attitudes from locals.
In recent years, Iranian homosexuals have founded at least two LGBT organisations outside the country. Some opposition media, such as the website of Radiozamaneh, an Iranian radio station based in Amsterdam, have devoted a specific section to the discussion of the homosexual issues.
By Saeed Kamali Dehghan
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