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Iranian official promoting ‘Islamic values’ suspended over ‘gay video’

August 2, 2023

Reza Tsaghati, an Iranian government official responsible for enforcing Islamic values, has been suspended from his position after a video emerged allegedly showing him engaging in gay sex with a young man. Homosexual acts are illegal in Iran and carry severe punishments, including life imprisonment, fines, whipping, and even execution.

Tsaghati formerly served as the director-general of culture and Islamic guidance in Gilan province. The video was brought to light by Peyman Behboudi, the editor of Radio Gilan Telegram, a media outlet that exposes corruption among regime officials. The video was purportedly recorded within the premises of the General Directorate of Culture and Islamic Guidance, as reported by IranWire. However, the identities of the individuals in the video and its authenticity have not been verified, according to the BBC.

It is worth noting that accusations of same-sex relations have previously been exploited in Iran to eliminate political opponents. Gilan Radio had previously criticized Tsaghati, describing him as an opponent of the provincial Governor Asadollah Abbasi. Claims have also surfaced that Tsaghati’s sister and nieces have been detained, but these allegations are yet to be verified.

The Culture and Islamic Guidance office issued a statement on July 22, announcing Tsaghati’s suspension over a “suspected misstep,” and the incident has been referred to judicial authorities for careful consideration.

Iran’s culture minister, Mohammad Mehdi Esmaili, stated that he had no prior knowledge of Tsaghati’s alleged homosexuality. Tsaghati had held the position since 2021 and had recently established a community center focused on chastity and promoting the wearing of hijab, a traditional Muslim head covering for women.

The situation concerning LGBTQ+ rights in Iran remains challenging, with the Revolutionary Court of Urmia sentencing two prominent activists to death in 2022 for “promoting homosexuality.” This alarming trend has drawn international criticism, with organizations like Amnesty International condemning the criminalization of LGBTQ+ individuals, which perpetuates violence and discrimination against them.

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