Representation. A gavel. MiamiAccidentLawyer/Pixabay


  • A court in Iran has sentenced two women to death on human trafficking charges
  • The two, described by foreign monitors as gay and lesbian rights activists, are allegedly innocent
  • They have the right to appeal the decision

Two gay and lesbian rights activists in Iran have been sentenced to death on charges of "corruption on earth," according to reports.

A revolutionary court in the northwestern city of Urmia handed down the sentences against the two women, identified as Zahra Sedighi and Elham Chobdar, Voice of America reported, citing Iran's government-owned Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

They have the right to appeal the decision.

Authorities had accused Sedighi and Chobdar of "corruption on earth," a term reportedly often used to describe attempts to undermine the Iranian government.

It can also refer to offenses related to Islamic morals, according to Reuters.

Sedighi and Chobdar "deceived and trafficked young women and girls out of the country by promising them educational and work opportunity, thus leading to the suicide of several of their victims," the IRNA reported.

Crimes such as murder, rape, drug trafficking and sodomy can lead to the death penalty under Iranian law.

However, advocates and rights groups claimed Sedighi and Chobdar were innocent.

International rights watchdog Amnesty International identified the former earlier this year as an "Iranian gender-nonconforming human rights defender" whose monthslong detention stemmed from her "sexual orientation and gender identity as well as her social media posts and statements in defense of LGBT rights."

Meanwhile, Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, a Norwegian-registered organization that monitors rights violations in Iran's western Kurdistan province, claimed security forces detained Chobdar for "promoting homosexuality."

IRNA allegedly made no reference to the women's activism.

Homosexuality is illegal in Iran — considered one of the most repressive places in the world for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described homosexuality as part of a "moral deprivation" widespread in Western civilization in March.

Iran is also considered among the world's most prolific executioners.

The country executes people "at an alarming rate," according to Javaid Rehman, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran.

Iran reportedly executed two gay men on charges of sodomy earlier this year.

Under Iranian law, homosexual acts are punishable by the death penalty.

If you have thoughts of suicide, confidential help is available for free at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-8255. The line is available 24 hours, every day.

A noose.
Representation. A noose. kalhh/Pixabay