Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Iran's Ex President Defends Killing Gays in Harvard Talk

I am sending a big thank you to Doug Ireland for sharing the text of Khatami's answer to a question about gays on his blog, to New York-based journalist Duncan Osborne for transcribing Khatami's reply, and to the student at Harvard who posed the gay-specific question.

From Ireland's blog today:

As Harvard students demonstrated against him, Mohammad Khatami, Iran’s president from 1997 to 2005, spoke through a translator at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government on September 10, 2006. His remarks on homosexuality in response to a question, which follow, were transcribed by journalist Duncan Osborne from C-SPAN's videotape of Khatami's presentation. The ellipses are where Khatami paused for translation.

Khatami on execution of gays in Iran:

"We’re at a university, the cradle of science, so we can speak of it scientifically...In all schools of thought and in all religions there is punishment and punishment is not a form of violence...Punishment is seen as a response to violence or deviance in society and if there is no punishment in a society a society cannot run effectively...

"In regards to the fact that is capital punishment a fair reaction to crime this is an issue that has been debated extensively in legal circles and even some states in the United States still maintain capital punishment and even some other countries in the world so the issue of capital punishment is still being largely debated...

"As an expert of Islamic sciences I tell you that capital punishment is accepted in Islam, but it has conditions that are so stringent that executions should almost never happen. If in fact they are happening in Islamic countries it is because, if it happens excessively in Islamic countries it is a problem of bringing those religious rulings into practice...

"In regards to the issue of gay people as well as the issue of adultery, the conditions that are required for capital punishment are so strict that it is virtually impossible to meet...Of course this is my opinion and a lot of people don’t accept my opinion, but I was asked for my opinion so this is what I believe...

"In many Islamic countries homosexual relationships as well as non-consensual heterosexual relationships have been punishable...There are also others, there are others in the world that have similar views namely important sects of Christianity...So yes you are correct homosexual activity is a crime in Islam...And crimes are punishable...The fact that could crimes be punished by execution is debatable...And that we must differentiate between punishment and violence."

More from Doug Ireland:

Khatami's answer, of course, begs the question of the many homosexual Iranians who have been framed for, or forced under torture to confess to, other crimes, like rape -- and then executed for them. And the Iranian gay group Homan has reported over 4,000 executions of homosexuals in Iran since Ayatollah Khomeini made homosexuality a capital crime upon taking power in 1979. So to say, as Khatami did, that, in Iran, executions of gays "almost never happen" is, not to make a pun, a bit of a stretch....Or, to be more precise, a clever bit of sophistry.

Let's hope gay and mainstream journalists become interested in all this and report on the ex-president's comments at Harvard over the weekend.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

What is a man like Irans ex president doing by saying execution of homosexuals is right when he himself runs around looking like a dragqueen in that robe and turbine. Lets keep their culture and laws over there and pull out. who dosent understand that? all that is is a cover up in the end to execute the "christians" ! I myself am not a " christian" however, I can see behind the mirror here.