I’ve written repeatedly for The Spectator about how the Western media has a track record of misreporting on the plight of homosexuals in the Middle East. However, an outrageous article by Benjamin Wenthal for the Jerusalem Post on the hanging of a child kidnapper and rapist in Iran, which was picked up by dozens of major news outlets, has introduced new depths of inaccuracy and sensationalism to the coverage.
Published under the headline ‘Iran Publicly Hangs Man on Homosexuality Charges’, the article quotes Iranian student media as saying a 33-year-old man was executed in the southwestern city of Kazeroon ‘based on his criminal violations of “lavat-e be onf” – sexual intercourse between two men.’
Cue outrage from rent-a-quote Alireza Nader, CEO of the Washington-based research and advocacy organization New Iran. In response to news of the execution, he told the Post that ‘the LGBT community in Iran has lived in terror for the last 40 years’ and described the Iranian regime as ‘one of the top executioner of gays in the world.’
At first glance, it does all sound dreadful. The problem – as, bizarrely, the article in the Post itself goes on to make clear – is that the individual was hanged not for his homosexuality, but rather for kidnapping and raping two 15-year-old boys. That’s hardly the same thing as ‘sexual intercourse between two men’, however which way a bunch of radical Iranian students might choose to spin it. More to the point: public hanging is the sentence for rape in Iran, whether the victim is male or female, as it is for as adultery (and Allah only knows how many other crimes). When it comes to rape specifically, there appears to be no possibility of leniency when there are aggravating circumstances – for example (as in this case) when the victim is also kidnapped and/or is a minor.
Suggesting that this Iranian was hanged for ‘being gay’ is as ridiculous as describing the countless Iranian men hanged for kidnapping, raping and murdering underage girls over the past four decades as having been sentenced to death for ‘being straight’. Especially baffling, though, is that such a casual confluence of ‘child kidnapper and rapist’ with ‘gay man’ should happen at a time when Western gay activists are desperately eager to disabuse a lingering perception among certain sections of the general population that homosexuality and pederasty are one and the same.
As it happens, I don’t like the idea of anyone being hanged in public for any reason, in Iran or anywhere else. At the same time, I’m not going to shed any tears for this particular individual. And I find it troubling – to put it mildly – that the likes of Wenthal and Nader feel compelled to claim him as part of a persecuted LGBT minority in Iran. Are we to assume that they are eager to add the letters CR – standing for Child Rapists – to that ever-expanding acronym? They have some serious explaining to do.
Of course, the reason for their confusion is a blind desire to bash Iran at any cost – the Post on behalf of Israel, and Nader on behalf of the Iranian diaspora – as the Trump administration ratchets up sanctions over the country’s nuclear program. And in that context, there is yet another irony. After all, the most pro-Israel and anti-Iran section of the American population is made up of the hardcore evangelicals who form part of Trump’s core base. They have more in common with the fundamentalist clerics in Iran than they would care to acknowledge, perhaps not least in that they would likely throw a party to celebrate the public hanging of pedophile kidnappers and rapists.