An Iranian gay man was brutally murdered and beheaded by his family in a horrific “honour killing” after they found out he was gay.
Alireza Fazeli-Monfared, 20, was reportedly murdered by his brother and cousins on Tuesday (4 May) after they discovered the Iranian military exempted him from service because of “sexual depravities”.
At around 7pm on Tuesday evening, Alireza spoke to his mother on the phone for the last time, his best friend Aghil Abyat told Iran Wire.
Shortly afterwards, his half-brother arrived at Alireza’s residence and said their father needed to see him. Alireza was taken by car to the village of Borumi, near the capital of Ahvaz, where his brother and cousins murdered and beheaded him, before dumping his body by a tree.
Alireza had been planning to flee Iran and join his boyfriend as a refugee in Turkey before his death. His partner, activist Aghil Bayat, told Iranian LGBT+ network 6rang that the killers called Alireza’s mother directly after the murder and told her where to find his body.
Alireza’s mother was “hospitalised with shock” following the murder, Bayat said. He later told Radio Zamaneh that Alireza’s killers have been arrested.
LGBT+ people are often targeted with violence by family members in Iran
In a statement, 6rang hit out the the military exemption process that allowed Alireza’s family to identify his sexuality.
“Alireza’s killing as a result of his sexual orientation being stated on his military service [exemption] card has once again provided proof for our warning several years ago about the risks caused by the military service exemption process for gay Iranian men and underlines the need for legislation to prevent these safety risks,” 6rang said in a statement shared on Instagram, which was translated by Iran International.
The advocacy group had previously warned that the exemption process allows law enforcement officials, the judiciary, employers and educational institutions to “identify gay men with only one glance at the military service exemption card”.
The process endangers members of the LGBT+ community in Iran, where homophobia and transphobia are rife.
Meanwhile, BBC Persian reported on Friday (May 7) that it had acquired audio recordings of Alireza saying he was in danger from family members and that he was planning to flee Iran.
Women and LGBT+ people are often targeted in so-called “honour killings” under the belief that they have brought shame or dishonour on the family.
A 2019 study in The Journal of Interpersonal Violence found that anti-gay “honour violence” is still used and encouraged around the world.
A report compiled by 6rang in 2020 found that six in 10 queer people in Iran have been assaulted by family members, while almost half have been sexually assaulted in public.
Same-sex sexual conduct is illegal in Iran and can be punishable by death or life imprisonment, and any display of LGBT+ identities is strongly condemned.
Readers affected by the issues raised in this story are encouraged to contact Samaritans free on 116 123 (www.samaritans.org) or Mind on 0300 123 3393 (www.mind.org.uk). Readers in the US are encouraged to contact theNational Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255.
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