Iranian gays flee to Turkey

After facing years of harassment and execution, Iranian gays and lesbians pursue Turkey as a go-between for westward travel.
Kayseri's Fez Kichak neighborhood houses gays and lesbians seeking to move west. (courtesy of

Gay Iranians seek refuge in Turkey after faced with potential death sentences for years.

Since the Islamic revolution in 1979, approximately 4,000 gays have been executed in Iran, according to The Washington Post. Homosexuality is punishable by death in Iran.

“All I wanted was death from God, to die and be free of them,” said Alireza Naimian. Paramilitary Basijis had detained and raped Naimian in 2007 before he could be resettled in the U.S.

Nine gay men presently live in the Kayseri’s Fez Kichak neighborhood, a place that has become known as a halfway house for LGBT Iranians seeking to flee west. According to The Washington Post, 92 Iranian homosexuals have refugee status in Turkey, said Saghi Ghahraman, director of the Toronto-based Iranian Queer Organization which tracks homosexuals fleeing Iran.

In more conservative regions of Turkey, homosexuals must lay low to avoid harassment before they can flee west.

“Police here tells us to stay indoors when we report violence against us,” said Roodabeh Parvaresh to The Washington Post, a 32-year-old lesbian who has been in Turkey for over two years now

To read more on this story, visit The Washington Post.

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