Earlier this month, we reviewed the media’s reaction to a surprising government-sanctioned report showing that nearly 20 percent of Iranian youths define themselves as gay (so much for Ahmadinejad priding the absence of gays in Iran..), as well as to reports that Iranians were executed for their sexual orientation.
But how much attention does the Western press devote to initiatives – grassroots and otherwise – aimed at helping gay Iranians and documenting the hardships and abuse they endure in their everyday lives (until they attempt to go West)?
This month, two such initiatives surfaced: a campaign by Iranian lesbian and transgender network 6Rang to put a stop to coerced sex changes for LGBT Iranians, and an American film documenting the flight of gay Iranians to Turkey.
Neither received much traction in the Western media, with the 6Rang campaign appearing mostly on human rights websites and the film by the New York-based Rick Flynn, Golf Alpha Yankee, only scarcely being covered outside gay outlets – other than an honorable mention in a Daily Beast report about the migration of gay Iranian youths to the “Maple Syrup Mecca” of Toronto.
In fact, Toronto’s gay Iranian community – and the government-sponsored refugee program behind it – was more visible in the news this month, with both The Daily Beast’s Nina Strochlic and The Star’s Nicholas Keung shedding light on the reasons behind the flight of LGBT youth from Iran, mainly the harassment they face in their home country (from flogging and jail time on prostitution charges to death sentences).
Another expat community, this one in Sweden, made headlines with an unconventional marriage: that of two Iranian lesbians, one – in a rainbow head-covering – heavily pregnant, and the other suffering from congenital brittle bones, officiated by a gay Muslim imam.
Iran’s LGBT expats have been in the spotlight this month, mostly in color (pun intended) stories, but how much attention is the media devoting to the ongoing persecution of those who stayed behind?