International lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights advocates are outraged after an Iranian human rights official slammed homosexuality as a "disease," and implied that same-sex marriage was "immoral."
As Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is reporting, Iranian High Council for Human Rights Secretary-General Mohammad Javad Larijani made the offending remarks during a Tehran visit by German lawmaker Tom Koenigs. "The West says that the marriage of homosexuals should be allowed under the human rights charter," he is quoted as saying. "However, we think it is sexual immorality and a disease."
The statement was perhaps not surprising given that homosexuality is punishable by death under strict Islamic law in Iran. Furthermore, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defiantly professed that, despite alleged instances of human rights abuses, there were no LGBT people his country during a 2007 visit to Colombia University. "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country," he is quoted by ABC as saying at the time. "In Iran, we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who has told you we have that."
In 2008, a controversial documentary titled "Be Like Others" examined the trend of Iranian citizens who allegedly underwent sex-change operations, fully paid for by the state, in order to comply with their nation's theocratic standards on LGBT lifestyles.
In October of last year, two Iranian soccer players were indefinitely suspended and fined for "immoral" behavior after appearing to intimately touch each other during goal-scoring celebrations.