Monday, May 21, 2007

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Airs Revealing Documentary About LGBT Oppression in Iran

This blogger remains highly suspicious of self-preserving naivete as a means to shelter oneself from reality. The American people remain, by and large, blissfully ignorant to events which continue to unfold outside the United States. The LGBT community is no exception but a recent Canadian Broadcasting Corporation documentary about the brutal oppression LGBT Iranians endure in their own country serves as a stark reminder of the conditions under which many of our brothers and sisters unfortunately live.

The CBC broadcast "Out in Iran" earlier this year but this blogger rather ashamedly discovered it only this past weekend. Producers interviewed gay activist Mani Zaniar, a former gay prostitute named "Hooman," a transgender woman and others who continue to suffer persecution from the current regime. Iranian law punishes those convicted of lavat or sodomy with a range of punishment that includes 100 lashes and even death. Those who appeared in the documentary literally risked their lives to publicly discuss their plight within Iran. Zaniar himself explained his decision to come forward in a short but defiant and brave statement.

"It is time for us to speak out," he said. "It is time to start defending our rights."

LGBT Americans certainly struggle against discrimination based on the lack of anti-discrimination and anti-hate crime statutes, marriage equality and other basic legal protections. They remain fortunate, however, to live in a country where their government will not execute them because of the person with whom they choose to sleep with or love. This point underscores the obvious as opposed to make a self-righteous argument as the movement in this country continues to struggle under overinflated egos, self-serving personal and organizational agendas and a lack of accountability. There are certainly a multitude of good people within the broader movement who continue their good work on behalf of LGBT Americans. Organizations and stakeholders within the movement, however, need to remind themselves of the common goals of fairness and equality upon which it was created. Zaniar and his Iranian colleagues certainly provide this reminder through their extraordinary activism.

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