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Iran: Stop forced and early marriages and end discrimination against sexual minorities

Published Date: 
Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Justice for Iran | 3 November 2014 – Illegalisation of forced and early marriages, banning forced sex change operations, and formal recognition of the rights of sexual minorities are among recommendations offered by various countries during the second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on the situation of human rights in Iran.

The second UPR on Iran took place on Friday 31 October 2014 at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.  During this session, 50 recommendations directly addressed the issue of forced and early marriages, as well as the rights of women, transgender and homosexual citizens.

Ahead of the UPR, Justice for Iran  met with representatives of at least 30 countries at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and suggested recommendations on these topics based on its recent publications: JFI brief and recommendations on early marriage in IranJFI & 6Rang brief and recommendations on LGBT rights in IranJFI brief and recommendations on women’s rights in Iran.

Eight countries from Africa, Asia and Europe recommended the Islamic Republic rectify its national laws pertaining to forced and early marriages. For instance, Sierra Leone recommended that Iran raise the minimum age for marriage to 18 and end the practice of forced and early marriages. South Korea asked Iran to end all forced and early marriages involving young girls while Montenegro pointed to laws that allow children below the age of 13 to marry pending a judge’s permission.

In response to the recommendations on forced and early marriages, Mohammad Javad Larijani, the Head of the Human Rights Council of Iran’s judiciary, stated: “There are no forced marriages in Iran, and in reality girls marry quite late.” However, according to findings published by JFI official statistics point to the fact that between 2006 and 2013 the rate of marriages involving girls below the age of 15 increased steadily. Based on these statistics during the same period, more than a third of the marriages registered, involved girls below the age of 19.

In addition to the above, during its second UPR last Friday, the Islamic Republic received 11 recommendations from Latin American, European, Asian and North American delegations regarding sexual orientation and gender identity. Iceland recommended repealing laws that criminalise same-sex sexual conduct; amend laws and policies that treat homosexuality as a mental disorder and outlaw forced sterilisation and reparative therapies against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals and protect LGBT individuals against torture and other ill-treatment. Furthermore, the Italian representative asked Iran to end discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and ensure that forced sterilisation does not take place on grounds of gender identity.

Argentina expressed its concerns regarding discrimination against sexual minorities and homosexuals, recommending Iran stop execution of homosexuals.

Mohammad Javad Larijani responded to the body of recommendations by saying: “Until 70 years ago all Western countries did not consider it a human rights violation to proclaim an end to homosexuality, then considered an illness. But now that it is prevalent in the West, you ask everyone to follow your way. This is venal and not beneficial.” In his closing remarks he continued: “Under no circumstances do we accept any particular life style imposed on us in the name of human rights.”

Based on the Islamic Republic Penal Code, consensual sexual relationship between two homosexual adults is punishable by lashing and death. In addition, identifying as a transgender through choice of clothing can result in a fine and 74 lashes.

Putting a stop to executions, in particular cases involving juveniles, and public executions, protection of the rights of religious minorities especially the Baha’is, eradication of discrimination against sexual minorities and equal rights for women, releasing political prisoners, protection of the freedom of expression, investigation and improvement of prison conditions or claims of torture, protection and security of journalists, ending violations against human rights defenders, joining the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the Convention Against Torture, banning the criminal charge of “infidel” (based on Islamic Sharia laws) and allowing independence of the judiciary, are among other recommendations offered during this three-hour-long session.

Universal Periodic Review is a new mechanism of the United Nations, which requires all its member states to present reports regarding the situation of human rights in their respective countries to the international community. This takes place every four years during specific sessions held at the seat of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. All countries present recommendations and the recipient country maintains the right to accept or reject them. Those it accepts, must be implemented within the allotted four year period. During tomorrow’s session on 4 November 2014, the Islamic Republic will be given the chance to express its views in relation to the recommendations it will accept to implement over the next four years as well as those it will note.

More Links:

Universal Periodic Review: An opportunity to spotlight the rights of lesbian and transgender citizens in Iran

Watch Video: Medicalization of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Iran

Culturally Justified Violence Against Women