Middle East / North Africa

In Iran, sex change can shield gays from death penalty

Scene from "Be Like Others" documentary about sex-change surgery in Iran

Scene from “Be Like Others” documentary about sex-change surgery in Iran

Numbers of gay men and lesbians in Iran have adopted a desperate method of shielding themselves from the country’s harsh laws against homosexual activities: sex-change surgery.

In a country where same-sex relationships are punishable by execution, sex-change surgeries can mean the difference between life and death, says Sasha von Oldershausen in a Huffington Post article on the subject.

The BBC says that more sex-change operations are performed in Iran than in any other country except Thailand, and Iran has just made such operations easier to afford. A new ruling requires health insurers to pay the full cost of sex-change surgeries.

The Guardian says that official statistics put the number of transgender Iranians at 15,000 to 20,000, but unofficial estimates range up to 150,000.

Sex-change surgeries can be acceptable to Muslims who view homosexuality as a disease and think of sex-change surgery as a cure for that disease.

Von Oldershausen cites filmmaker Tanaz Eshaghian, an Iranian native whose award-winning 2008 documentary “Be Like Others” focused on “a generation of young Iranian men choosing to undergo sex-change surgery.”

Eshaghian showed “the pressure felt by gay men and women in Iran to have sexual reassignment surgeries as a means of legitimizing their sexual orientation. As gay individuals, they are committing a crime. As transsexuals, they can exist under Iranian law,” in the words of von Oldershausen.

7 thoughts on “In Iran, sex change can shield gays from death penalty

  1. Pingback: LGBT world 2012: victories, setbacks, close calls | 76 CRIMES

  2. Pingback: As U.N. backs gay rights, Iran says gays are sick criminals | 76 CRIMES

  3. Pingback: Iran arrests 17 in crackdown on ‘homosexuals, satanists’ | 76 CRIMES

  4. Pingback: New tools to fight anti-gay repression in Iran | 76 CRIMES

  5. Pingback: Gay-friendly voice in Iran: Homophobia is un-Islamic | 76 CRIMES

  6. Pingback: In homophobic Iran, a policy that bans homophobia? | 76 CRIMES

  7. Pingback: Iran campaign seeks end to coerced LGBT sex changes | 76 CRIMES

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s