Thursday, August 11, 2005

SF Mayor Condemns Iran Killing Teenager; 50 at Protest

Close to fifty people showed up at Harvey Milk Plaza on August 11 over the course of a one-hour vigil to deplore the death penalty, Iran's recent public hanging of two teenagers who may have been gay and U.S. government indifference to antigay human rights abuses domestically and abroad.

I was honored to read the following statement from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, strongly condemning Iran's state-sanctioned executions, which had been provided to me just one hour prior to the start of the vigil.

"I am both outraged and appalled by what can only be described as a most
horrific atrocity effecting human lives in Iran. The hanging of two
teenage boys for their alleged sexual orientation is an affront not only to
justice but to all of our sense of humanity. Any one who lives in a
civilized and free society must not take these events lightly. We must
challenge the Iranian Government to put an immediate end to these senseless
killings. I proudly join in with all those who stand for freedom, liberty
and true equality. We demand that the Iranian Government cease these
barbaric acts." -- San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Aug 11, 2005.

Dozens of activists held aloft images of the two Iranians boys with nooses around their necks and "R.I.P. Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni" printed underneath the photo of them, moments before their executions on July 19. Banners and placards from Death Penalty Focus, emblazoned with generic anti-death penalty demands, were displayed across newspaper vending machines.

Some of the community members who spoke to the press included political artist Clinton Fein, labor organizer Howard Wallace, gay Episcoplanian Michael B. Music, and two nuns from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who wore their order's full regalia.

Three photos, for free and without copyright, are available thanks to Clinton Fein at his site.




Earlier in the day, Supervisor Bevan Dufty sent a letter of concern to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. By the end of the afternoon, Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi announced he will introduce a resolution about Iran's death penalty and gays at the next Board of Supervisors meeting.

Quite a number of reporters, gay photographers, queer bloggers, and TV cameramen came from KGO-TV, the Ming Pao Chinese Daily, the Bay Area Reporter and the Bay Times.

I thank all the many people in San Francisco who stepped forward on extremely short notice to pull this successful vigil and press conference together, because today we stood for abolishing capitol punishment and respect for the human rights of gays everywhere.

Today, San Francisco joined Dublin, Paris, Montpellier, London, Moscow, Amersterdam, Stockholm and Vancouver in staging a public action about Iran's killing of two boys who could have been gay, and regardless of their sexual leanings and alleged crimes, should not have been hanged.

Finally, I am asking for community discussion about confronting Iran's president in September when he comes to New York to address the U.N.'s General Assembly.

Here's my proposal: Let's organize a news conference and hold a picket at Iran's mission to the U.N., the day before the Iranian leader makes his debut at the world body.

We should not pass up the opportunity to push antigay human rights abuses onto the world stage this September in New York.

Give me your feedback about this idea for September.

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