September 25, 2007


Sex changes and a draconian legal code: gay life in Iran (Robert Tait, September 25, 2007, Guardian Unlimited)

Iran has between 15,000 and 20,000 transsexuals, according to official statistics, although unofficial estimates put the figure at up to 150,000. Iran carries out more gender change operations than any other country in the world besides Thailand.

Sex changes have been legal since the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, spiritual leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution passed a fatwa authorising them nearly 25 years ago. While homosexuality is considered a sin, transsexuality is categorised as an illness subject to cure.

The government seeks to keep its approval quiet in line with its strait-laced stance on sexuality, but state support has actually increased since Mr Ahmadinejad took office in 2005.

His government has begun providing grants of £2,250 for operations and further funding for hormone therapy. It is also proposing loans of up to £2,750 to allow those undergoing surgery to start their own businesses.

Maryam Khatoon Molkara, leader of the country's main transsexual organisation, said some of those undergoing operations were gay rather than out-and-out transsexuals.

"In Iran, transsexuals are part of the homosexual family. Is it possible that a phenomenon exists in the world but not in Iran?"she told the Guardian.

"Transsexuality is a real disaster. It's a one-way street. But if somebody wants to study, have a future and live like others they should go through this surgery."

You'd think, if nothing else, the clerics would have more respect for God's handiwork.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 25, 2007 3:01 PM
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