(in accordance with May 17, International Day Against Homophobia)
Iran’s university Student Movement is seventy- years- old. Along the years, in the absence of democracy, symbolically, it became a trench for freedom and human rights activities. On many occasions the movement acted as the enlightening and inspiring force to Iranian people’s civil campaigns against oppression.
University Student Movement, during the course of its actions got affected by the world’s social and political progressive movements and in turn affected people’s thoughts and political beliefs with its finds. The Student Movement has been a pioneer in supporting and defending all other social movements and various deprived minorities, relating and identifying with their causes. University and university students have also been the source of many intellectual and social movements in Iran.
On the day against homophobia, this letter is addressed to Iranian university students’ activists.
And since Iranian citizens social demands have brought together all human rights movements in the present day, thus, it is only feasible that the human rights activists, civil society activists and intellectuals, and everyone involved in the challenges of raising political awareness amongst people, be also the recipient of this letter - especially in the midst of presidential elections campaigns when everyone is cautious to make sure crucial decisions made today will not embarrass the next generation.
On the day against homophobia, recipients of this letter are all of whom who are deeply concerned with the necessity of reforms and improvements in Iran, whose interest is not for office but are anxious and striving for fairness and social justice.
On the other days of the year, Iranian homosexual students stood in line with various student groups, women’s movement, public demonstrations, civil rights activists’ protests, and intellectuals’ meetings. Today, this letter addresses our colleagues and friends in the University Student Movement. The student movement must be a safe home for all students regardless of race, religion, language, and gender.
Does the student movement still wish to ignore the fact of diversity among students in the body of the movement?
Does the movement still wish to go on pretending There Are No Homosexual Students in Iran?
During the years, we stood by you and we will be staying by your side. If you do not know our names, it is because of our covering up for domineering prejudices and judgments that exist in the inner layers of the student movement which never tolerated homosexuality. Today, after all these years, we believe if the leader and the government of Iran claim that we, homosexuals, do not exist in our own homeland, they are walking in the path of same old prejudiced strategies. However, our expectation from the from the student movement, based on the movements’ ideals and guidelines, and our demand is that the movement stop denying our existence, do not ignore our presence, and do not, indifferently or unknowingly, walk by us and the injustices conducted against us.
We, Iranian homosexual students, have been working side by side the student and intellectual movements. We are present in the context of social and political Requirements. We are vigorous defenders of change in the unequal and unjust circumstances in Iranian society. Now that all freedom lovers, the kindhearted and wise individuals, and defenders of human rights have come to realize that homosexuals’ rights are human rights, and thus fighting toward their rights is fighting for human rights regardless of color of skin, religion, social class, gender, and sexual orientation, when ignorance of the previous generation towards social oppressions and ill-advised political beliefs do not rule anymore, we, the homosexual students in a number of universities in Iran, decided to receive this moment as the chance to accept our historical mission, to enlighten our people and our classmates against cruelties and harassments still carried out against some of the children of this country.
Homosexuality has been removed from the list of mental disorders for years, and free minded free spirited people in the world have paid political attention to it. One can name many great homosexual people in the world whose sexual orientation did not stop them from adding to the richness of global culture and science. Also, their sexuality did not bar them from receiving recognition and appreciation in the civilized world. However, in Iran and other unprivileged countries restricted from enjoying social freedom and human rights, homosexuals are condemned to the most barbaric and horrible tortures and harassments and injustices, and yet no one feels obliged to open their eyes to these virtual executions that happen today to Iranian homosexuals.
Even though sexual orientation is innate, and homosexuals like heterosexuals do not chose their sexuality but are born with it, the Iranian society still alleges homosexuals with the sin of homosexuality, which is in fact their benign nature.
Friends! Classmates! Homophobia has spread its dark shadow over our private and social life with such intensity that simple breathing has become difficult for us. Our only fault is, that we want, like everyone else, to live in accordance with our innate. Our homosexual nature leads us to wish for a partner of the same sex. In the same line, our nature leads us to be a part, an active and responsive part of society. We believe that we should take on more responsibilities inside the student movement and Iranian citizens’ struggles for freedom, gender equality and social justices. Or, conduct mentioned responsibilities we have already been carrying out, with assurance and confidence of solidarity and tolerance inside the student movement.
Is the student movement the shelter for all students regardless of their sexual orientation? This is not a question but a pleading for justice.
We, the Iranian homosexual students demand that the student movement, for the first time in the modern history of Iran, during these days of presidential election, with the widespread commotion to eliminate violence against human and civil rights in Iran, and on the day named to advocate homosexuals’ rights, acknowledge the existence of homosexual students in universities of Iran; believe in the presence of homosexual students in the boundless borderless student movement countrywide; accept the fact of homosexuals existence in our society, be aware of the challenges they face, and take necessary steps to initiate and maintain social respect for homosexuals.
After these many years, based on the identity and characteristics of this movement, the assumption is that the movement and its spokes persons, its media and its websites, engage in dialogues about homosexuals, fellow citizens suppressed in their own homeland. We urge the student movement to speak up and step forward to express respect for our rights. We wish to emphasize that it is best and only fair if this step is taken first and most by the student movement.
It is a timely question to ask: Why the student movement has turned a blind eye on homosexual students and harassments they endure in the supposedly non-violent environments?
We, homosexual students of Iran, urge the body of student movement to have a scrutinizing look at gender and sexuality-based policies the Islamic Republic of Iran conducts; and to include critics of these policies in their Requirements. We are certain that reforming and improving of these policies will be beneficial to all social groups in our country and will result in liberation. We, homosexual students of Iran, urge you, our sisters and brothers in all political and social movements who are suffering from such laws consisting of severe intolerance and ignorance of individual’s very right to live, to include in that scenery you perceive for our country’s future Respect for all human beings notwithstanding diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity, and an Appreciation of divergences in human beings.
This requirement is specifically set forth in a manner of grave surprise and insistence because in the few extensive Students’ Requirement-Based Statements Iran’s LGBT community’s rights haven’t been mentioned once, not in University based Requirements, not in massive social and political Requirements, and not even in The Ten Requirements and The Twenty Requirements.
If institutions identifying themselves as Student Movement Activists are not able to act responsibly towards the absence of LGBT rights in the sphere of political and religious alternative-thinkers’ rights in their statements, they must await the day when they too - like the present governing body of Iran – involve in acts of prejudice and violence against diversity and deny equality and social justice.
During the days when People’s Requirements have brought together civil movements in Iran and is blurring borders between civil, intellectual, students and women’s movement, the population of homosexuals in Iran — who have been furthering their serious and systematic struggle for over 20 years under harsh situations and with the least of possibilities and in bloodiest eras stripped of the merest security and privacy be it personal or social — aside from their expectations from the students movement, ask other movements of Iranian society too, to acknowledge the presence of homosexuals among themselves and pay concerned attention to the absence of homosexuals rights.
Let’s learn together in the course of social and political movements that human rights are common and universal rights in which exclusiveness and divisionism is the first instance of digression of the notion of freedom.
In order to learn, and teach in return, what we expect at this level from the student movement is as follows:
To raise awareness amongst students and in the society as a whole, on the importance and urgency of respect and consideration for all sexual minority groups;
To cover news regarding harassments, arrests, beatings, persecutions, rape, disrespects to human beings’ dignity, and violations of the rights of homosexual students, in universities and at the hands of security officials, administrative and educational officials, and other students; to publish this news in the movements’ media and news channels (websites, bulletins, and student newspapers etc…);
To Include in their programs and campaigns serious critics of government politics regarding suppression of homosexuals and other sexual minority groups’ rights, discriminatory and unjust laws and regulations concerning sexual minorities in civil laws and penal codes of the country;
To Include in their programs and campaigns organizing seminars associated and related with sexuality at large; bring forward discourses in relation with raising awareness about sexuality; publish articles regarding sexual orientation and gender identity; bring forward issues in relation with human and civil rights of homosexuals and other branches of sexual orientation and gender identity;
To choose constructive projects in raising awareness about the urgency of respect for homosexuals and other sexual minority groups;
To practice respect in their deeds and manners, and dispose of discriminatory and oppressive traditions concerning sexual orientations; criticize homophobic conduct and open doors to include as many homosexual students as possible in the body of the student movement and related civil movements in likewise stages;
Homosexual students’ generous and patient understanding of the obstacles and political barriers faced by the student movement shouldn’t be interpreted as acceptance of discriminations and intolerance coming from the student movement towards homosexual students and the LGBT community.
The day will come when all women, workers, children, students, homosexuals, religious and language and ethnic minorities and every Iranian is able, is able to live freely in their own country and do not have to suffer inhumane and meaningless social and political and economical barriers. The day will come when dignity of every human being is well guarded and well respected.
In the Name of Freedom
Homosexual Students of:
University of Political Law and science Tehran University;
University of Literature and Social Sciences Tehran University;
University of Fine Arts Tehran University;
Industrial University of Amir Kabir;
Free University Central Tehran Unit;
Free University Science and Research Unit;
University of Shahhid Rejaee’s Teachers Training College;
Industrial University of Sharif;
Technical University of Shahid Chamran, City of Kerman;
Shahid Chamran’s University Teachers Training College;
University of Shahid BaHonar;