LGBT rights in Iran have come in conflict with the penal code since the 1930s. Homosexuality is a crime punishable by imprisonment, corporal punishment, or by execution. Gay men have faced stricter enforcement actions under the law than lesbians. However, it is disputed as to whether the executions of Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, or three other men executed in 2011 in Khuzestan province, were punishment for other crimes or carried out specifically because of their homosexuality.

Any type of sexual activity outside a heterosexual marriage is forbidden. Transsexuality in Iran is legal if accompanied by a gender confirmation surgery, with Iran carrying out more gender realignment operations than any other country in the world after Thailand. These surgeries are typically partially funded by the state – there have been claims that some homosexual men may have been pressured to undergo them both by government and society.

At the discretion of the Iranian court, fines, prison sentences, and corporal punishment are usually carried out rather than the death penalty (unless the crime was a rape). The charges of homosexuality and Lavat (sodomy) have in a few occasions been used in political crimes. Other charges had been paired with the Lavat crime, such as rape or acts against the state, and convictions are obtained in grossly flawed trials. On March 14, 1994, famous dissident writer Ali Akbar Saidi Sirjani was charged with offenses ranging from drug dealing to espionage to homosexuality. He died in prison under disputed circumstances.

Some human rights activists and opponents of the Iranian government claim between 4,000 and 6,000 gay men and lesbians have been executed in Iran for crimes related to their sexual orientation since 1979, while Amnesty International reports 5,000 have been.


Male to male relationships: Illegal

Punishments for male to male relationships: Yes

Female to female relationships: Illegal

Same sex marriage or civil union: No

Discrimination protection

NRHI inclusive of sexual orientation: No

Constitution protection: No

Employment protection: No

Hate crimes law: No

Incitement: No

Other protection: No

LGBT organizations/networks

Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees:

The Iranian Queer Organization:


A 2014 submission prepared by Justice For Iran (JFI) for the 20th session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is concerned with a range of distinct but interrelated criminal laws and other legal restrictions and practices that infringe the dignity and autonomy of women and transgender people, on grounds of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, particularly in respect of bodily integrity, sexual and reproductive health and decision-making. It is also concerned with patterns of sexual torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment (hereafter “other ill-treatment”) against women prisoners of conscience, and with the culture of impunity by which such long-standing patterns of abuse are characterized: Disciplining Bodies, Diagnosing Identities, Mandatory Veiling, Mandatory Sterilization, Sexual Torture and the Right to Bodily Integrity in the Islamic Republic of Iran

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