Photo via Wiki Commons/Hansueli Krapf
The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of the worst places in the world to be gay. Homosexuality is illegal there and, at times, punishable by death. Yet despite accounts of gruesome acts of violence and discrimination directed towards the nation's LGBT population, trans rights have been enshrined in Iranian law since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Now, a bill is progressing through the Iranian parliament that would intensify protections for those individuals.
Gender confirmation surgeries have been legal in Iran since the 1980s, when former leader Ayatollah Khomeini issued a religious decree sanctioning them. The stance has been upheld by Iran's current supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei, and over the years Iran has grown to be one of the top countries for the procedure--second only to Thailand.
The government already subsidizes surgeries and offers health and housing support for trans people. The newly proposed legislation would strengthen legal protections for the nation's trans population.
Farid Habibollah Masoudi, the deputy head of Iran's social affairs assistance department, characterized the bill as follows:
"To better protect transsexuals, a draft bill on all aspects, judicial and religious, has been prepared and sent to parliament's research center, which is examining it. To prevent any problems because of their appearance, they are given a letter confirming their transsexuality so the police do not take action against them."
While the country is rightly recognized for its robust support of its trans citizens, there have been a number of reports of gay people undergoing gender confirmation surgery in order to avoid a life of persecution. One Iranian man told the BBC:
"My father came to visit me in Tehran with two relatives. They'd had a meeting to decide what to do about me ... They told me: 'You need to either have your gender changed or we will kill you and will not let you live in this family.' If I'd gone to the police and told them that I was a homosexual, my life would have been in even more danger than it was from my family."
(H/T International Business Times)