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Iran urged to decriminalize homosexuality

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Homosexuals and other sexual minorities in Iran face harassment, violence and even death, said a report released by Human Rights Watch Wednesday.

The 102-page document outlining the plight of gays and lesbians in the Islamic republic was based on testimony taken from more than 100 Iranians, Human Rights Watch said.

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It calls on Iran to abolish all laws and legislation that criminalize same-sex conduct.

Susan Leah Whitson, Middle East director for the group, said gays and lesbians in Iran face a multitude of problems. "The laws are stacked against them; the state openly discriminates against them; and they are vulnerable to harassment, abuse and violence because their perpetrators feel they can target them with impunity," Whitson said.

A gay man who owns a cafe outside Tehran detailed an attack by two plainclothes members of a paramilitary volunteer group. He said the agents beat him and sexually assaulted him with a flashlight and a baton.

Iran is one of only seven countries with laws allowing execution for consensual same-sex conduct, Human Rights Watch said. The others are Mauritania, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

READ: The report in full (pdf)
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