A prominent Iranian actor issued an apology on Thursday for tweeting support of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to legalize gay marriage that was passed down last week, the Guardian reported. Bahram Radan wrote a letter of apology that was published in the country’s ultra-conservative newspaper, Keyhan, in which he called his tweet a mistake.
Over the weekend, Radan wrote on Twitter that “The US supreme court’s ruling that same-sex marriage is legal was historic, perhaps on the scale of the end of slavery … from Lincoln to Obama.” Within hours, Radan deleted the tweet amid a backlash of homophobic abuse and media criticism. Radan is an award-winning actor who has been referred to as Iran's Brad Pitt.
Keyhan, which has a director who is appointed by Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for Radan to be put on a blacklist and said that he had been called to the ministry of culture and Islamic guidance. The ministry vets cultural materials before their release.
In his letter, Radan wrote, “What was published on the Internet as my opinion about the US supreme court’s ruling on gay marriage was a mistake and does not reflect the dignity of the Iranian people, for which I apologise.”
Homosexuality is highly stigmatized in Iran. Until recently, male same-sex intercourse was punishable with death. It is no longer a capital offense, however there are degrees of penalties depending on the situation. According to Vocativ, the “active” party can get 100 lashes for same-sex relations, unless he is married, in which case the death penalty may apply. The so-called “passive” party can still be sentenced to death, whether married or not. Woman-on-woman sex can be punished with flogging.
As a result, coming out and being openly gay is reportedly very rare in Iran.
The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling last week that extended marital rights to same-sex couples across the country. Before the ruling, 37 states had legalized the unions. A majority of Americans supported the legalization, a dramatic change of public opinion from the early 2000s, when a majority of Americans did not approve of gay marriage in the United States.