A gay Iranian man has been reportedly beheaded by his brother and two cousins after they discovered he had been exempted from military service due to his sexuality.
Alireza Fazeli Monfared, 20, was allegedly taken by the three male members of his family to the village of Borumi, western Iran, and murdered.
Afterwards, the three killers allegedly called Alireza’s mother to tell them they had ‘finished him off’.
Alireza had applied for an exception from the compulsory Iranian military service for being gay so that he could leave the country and move to Turkey to live with his partner Aghil Abyat, according to 6Rang, the Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network.
But when the exception card arrived at his home in the city of Ahvaz, Alireza was not home and instead his half-brother is said to have discovered his sexual orientation after finding the card.
At 7pm on Tuesday Alireza spoke to his mother on the phone for the last time, Abyat told IranWire.
Shortly afterwards, his half-brother arrived at Alireza’s home and said their father needed to see him and drove him to Borumi during the night.
It was here that his sibling and two male cousins allegedly murdered and beheaded Alireza, before dumping his body by a palm tree.
‘There was no news of him until Wednesday, when Alireza’s stepbrother called his mother and told her: ‘We’ve finished him off’,’ Abyat said.
‘In other works, he confessed to murdering Alireza,’ Abyat claimed. ‘They found his body under some palm trees. It’s now with the medical examiner and his mother has been hospitalised because of the shock.’
Three men – believed to be Alireza’s half-brother and two cousins by Iranian media – were arrested and they are facing trial for the murder.
Alireza had a difficult relationship with his half-brother who would often complain to their father about how Alireza looked and how he dressed, saying he ‘dishonoured’ and ‘shamed’ their family.
Abyat said that before his death, Alireza had plans to sell his mobile phone and travel to Turkey to join him.
BBC Persian reported on Friday that they had acquired leaked audio recordings in which Alireza said he his life is ‘threatened by the family’.
In Iran, gay men are excepted from military service under Paragraph 7 Sectopm 5 of the military’s bylaws. Therefore, any mention of this paragraph in an exception card – which will have been the case for Alireza – would indicate that the recipient is gay.
‘Alireza’s killing as a result of his sexual orientation being stated on his military service [exemption] card has once again provided proof for our warning several years ago about the risks caused by the military service exemption process for gay Iranian men and underlines the need for legislation to prevent these safety risks,’ the NGO 6 Rang said in a statement.
The group had previously warned in 2016 that the exemption process allows police, educational institutions, employers and relatives to ‘identify gay men with only one glance at the military service exemption card’.
Scores of activists and friends of Alireza have paid tribute to him since learning of his death.
‘Nothing is more difficult than to expect to see somebody you love in a few days, and suddenly you hear he is dead,’ said Abyat. ‘Nothing is more difficult than to never be able to see him, or hear his voice, forever. This is an excruciating pain that will remain in my heart to the end of time.’
Human rights activist Gissou Nia tweeted: ‘RIP Alireza Fazeli Monfared. Brutally killed and disposed of by his family because of his sexuality.
‘Cultural attitudes in society towards homosexuality are a literal life or death problem. What compounds the problem is when the laws of a state do not provide any protection.’
‘LGBTQI persons face abuse at home but legal protection against abusive family members is slim,’ Nia added. ‘The law gives parents extensive discretion in disciplining their children. Filing a complaint against abusive family can further endanger LGBTQI persons, so abuse is often unreported.’
The Centre for Human Rights in Iran has condemned the killing, describing it as a ‘despicable murder’.
‘The despicable murder of Alireza Fazeli Mondared, 20, in Iran – reportedly for his sexual orientation – is the result of the Iranian government continuing to perpetuate falsities about homosexuality,’ the NGO said in a statement.
‘No human should be discriminated against or harmed for their sexual orientation.’
In Iran, homosexuality is punishable by execution. It is thought that thousands of gays have been executed in the country since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
As a result, homosexuals are often targeted in ‘honour killings’ as their families believe they have brought shame to them.
A 2020 6Rang report found that six in 10 gay people in Iran have been assaulted by members of their family, while almost 50 per cent have been publicly sexually assaulted.
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