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Shots fired as Iran arrests over 30 gay men in violent raid

The Islamic Republic of Iran arrested more than 30 men suspected of being homosexuals at a private party last week in the Esfahan province, the prominent Canadian NGO Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees reported on Thursday.

"IRQR received several reports in the last few days and we were able to confirm that police attacked guests and physically beat them. Police detained the men, ages 16 to 30, at the Basij [Revolutionary Guard Militia] Station and then transferred them to Esfahan’s Dastgerd Prison. A few people managed to escape and we received reports that there were several heterosexual individuals among those arrested,” the human rights NGO wrote on its website Thursday.

IRQR added, “After a few days, all the families were informed by Basij that their sons were arrested for sodomy. A special prosecutor has been assigned to their cases and they were charged with sodomy, drinking alcohol and using psychedelic drugs."

The Basij is a paramilitary force used to repress dissidents. It played a key role in dismantling the Green movement protests in 2009 against a reportedly fraudulent presidential election. Iran’s Islamic law system prescribes the death penalty for gays. Capital punishment is the penalty dictated in the Hadiths, the religious writings in Islam second only to the Koran, which only mandates punishment for homosexuals but does not specify in what the manner.  jpost.com