A young gay man was brutally beheaded in Iran in an alleged honored killing committed by the man’s half-brother and other male relatives. According to a report in Iran International, Alireza “Ali” Fazeli Monfared, 20, was killed after his family learned he had been exempted from military service because of his sexual orientation. Monfared reportedly feared his family members, and was planning to move to Turkey to live with his partner before he was lured to a remote location in the village of Borumi and beheaded.
According to the report, the local Persian LGBTQ+ activist group 6Rang, or six colors, said Monfared had recently been exempted from military service due to his sexual orientation and an exemption card was mailed to his former home. His partner, Aghil Bayat, said Monfared had already moved out of the home because he feared some of his family, and only returned there to retrieve the card. However, his half-brother allegedly found the letter and card first. When Monfared arrived, he was told his father wished to speak to him. The half-brother and two other men then drove him to a remote location in the village of Borumi, where they allegedly murdered, beheaded, and dumped his body.
After cutting off his head and discarding his lifeless body by a tree, Bayat said the killers then called Monfared’s mother and told her where she could find the body of her only son. She was reportedly hospitalized with shock upon hearing the news.
Sadly, though, such honor killings by family members are not uncommon and are rarely punished in the country.
“Cultural attitudes in society towards homosexuality are a literal life or death problem,” Gissou Nia, a human rights lawyer with the Atlantic Council tweeted, noting that honor killings by a victim’s family are difficult to prosecute.
“LGBTQI persons face abuse at home but legal protection against abusive family members is slim,” Nia tweeted. “The law gives parents extensive discretion in disciplining their children."
Iranian journalist and activist Masih Alinejad tweeted a video of security forces she said were arresting a man off the street simply because he was gay. She said she has been “receiving many videos like these from Iran’s LGBTQ community” telling “harrowing stories of brutality by security forces.”
Iran is a dangerous place for the LGBTQ+ community. A report published by 6Rang last year found violence against queer folk was commonplace and that 62 percent of LGBTQ+ Persians had experienced violence from their own family. 6Rang said Monfared’s murder highlighted the dangers of the exemption card and Iranian laws regarding same-sex sexual relations.
“Alireza's killing as a result of his sexual orientation being stated on his military service 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,” 6Rang said in a statement.