Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Moving Speech by a Persian Gay-Rights Leader

Two days ago, Arsham Parsi, the human rights secretary for Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization, was the featured speaker at a gala in Toronto held by Égale Canada and ARC International. His speech can be found on the PGLO website. According to Doug Ireland, he has just left Turkey for Canada, where he has been granted asylum due to the death sentence imposed on him by Iran for being a gay activist. A quote:
I mentioned that I am the spokesperson of this organization, but let me add that I see and value this job far beyond what a regular employee might assume its organizational position to be and work for it. It is the most important thing in my life to be the spokesperson. It is a strong love and devotion that I have within me. There is a Music of Freedom that is in my heart. It is bursting inside me. I want everybody to hear this music, this music of freedom that my brothers and sisters in Iran cannot hear or are not allowed to hear. I became the spokesperson voluntarily because a voice was needed to be heard above the shrill cries of gay condemnation of the Islamic government. When my transsexual friend committed suicide under the pressure of her society and her family, and I saw her withered body and cold contracted hands on her breast I became the spokesperson. When my friend, Nima, a young gay man took his life due to police brutality and under the pressure of his family by eating arsenic, and I saw his lifeless body that slept like a beautiful angel I heavily cried and I became the spokesperson. When I saw my friends in the hallways of the central court of Shiraz, and heard their cries of pain from the lashes that had tortured them I cried too. But this also made me stronger in my desire to speak out. I learned about a gay couple who had celebrated with a private function their new lives together. The security forces discovered this celebration and started to trace this couple. Fortunately, this couple were able to escape detention, and one of them could escape to Turkey. But we surely know that not many other gay people in Iran have been that much successful in getting through their cases and saving their lives. When the Islamic government forbade the access of transsexuals to the public buildings in the big cities of Iran, when a gay man was severely beaten in a park in the central Tehran, when another gay was sentenced to the lash in Esfahan, when a group of my friends were detected in chat rooms and entrapped by the police, when another transsexual was severely beaten to the point where she lost 50 percent of her hearing in one ear, when gays were verbally and sexually abused in a police station in some cities of Iran, and in many other outrageous instances there was no one to speak for them and to reveal to the world what Iranian LGBTs suffer. We have a critical situation in Iran that must be resolved. Thus, I became the spokesperson of the PGLO to air the grievances and to show the world the true situation of persecutions that we suffer. I call upon all noble-minded people to stop, listen, and make an effort to help us.
If that's not inspiring, what is?

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