The United Nations has called on Iran to suspend the death penalties imposed on two convicted LGBTQ+ activists.
Elham Choubdar and Zahra Sedighi Hamedani were both sentenced earlier this month on charges related to their work with LGBTQ+ human rights. Among the charges were allegations that the two women were “promoting homosexuality” and that they were engaged in the trafficking of young girls and women, whom they were helping seek asylum in other countries.
On Wednesday, the UN released a statement in support of the women, calling on Iran to overturn the sentence.
“We strongly condemn the sentencing of Ms. Sedighi-Hamedani and Ms. Choubdar to death and call on authorities to stay their executions and annul their sentences as soon as possible,” UN representatives said in a press release. “Authorities must ensure the health and well-being of both women, and promptly release them from detention.”
The UN also called on Iran to investigate the detention of Sedighi-Hamedani, who was allegedly abused and tortured while in custody. She was initially arrested in October 2021 and forcibly disappeared for 53 days following her detention.
Choubdar was arrested at an unknown date following Sedighi-Hamedani’s detainment.
In its statement, the UN said that Iran’s authorities “have an international obligation to ensure that all human rights defenders in Iran can conduct peaceful and legitimate activities without fear of persecution or reprisals, including those working on sensitive issues such as sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The message comes at a time of turmoil for Iran, which is ruled by a conservative religious theocracy. Protests are ongoing throughout the country following the death of Mahsa Amini, who had been detained by the government’s morality police for wearing her hijab improperly while in public.
Her death has become a rallying cry for women to challenge the restrictions placed on them by Iran’s ruling theocracy.