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In April 2014, Iran’s Supreme Leader described homosexuality as “moral bankruptcy” and “libidinous behaviour”, while in September of the same year, the Iranian Speaker of Parliament called homosexuality “modern Western barbarism”. “They were saying I am a cleric and I shouldn’t be meeting gay men.
The other mullahs were suspicious about my sexual orientation and threatened me with death.” In Iran, mullahs wield huge power in the country and advise people on spiritual matters.
A Muslim gay cleric who conducted same sex weddings in secret in Iran has been forced to leave the county after receiving death threats from fellow religious figures.
The case was deemed significant as the prosecution office admitted they were sentenced for “lavat”, the phrase used in Islamic law for sodomy.
They prayed at our execution ceremonies, but now we know someone who prays at our wedding ceremonies.” However, another gay refugee, who left Iran a month ago and has not come out to his family, said trusting Taha was difficult following the treatment he had received from religious figures in Iran.
The man, who goes by the alias Farid, said: “It is very difficult for me to trust him because he is a mullah.
Usually courts label such acts as sexual assault and rape – crimes that convey an element of coercion rather than consensual sex between two willing participants.
These clerics are respected, but also feared for the power they hold.
Ramtin Zigorat, an Iranian gay refugee who fled from the country a year ago, said meeting Taha was extremely significant for him: “Before this we knew mullahs as people who wanted to punish us.