by Doug Ireland
August 19, 2006
Maryam knew she was a lesbian from an early age, but in Iran, being gay is punishable by death. Facing far more than parental disapproval, she was kicked out of school, fired from a job, imprisoned, and tortured, all in an unsuccessful effort to change her sexual orientation. Finally, she escaped to France, where her asylum request was still pending at press time.
In this interview, a lesbian victim of torture in the Islamic Republic of Iran speaks on the record for the first time about the horrors she suffered at the hands of a regime that has made homosexuality illegal and punishable by death. Maryam, 25, was expelled from school, forcibly hospitalized, arrested, and tortured for being a lesbian before finally escaping Iran. She eventually wound up in France, where she currently lives in an internment camp.
Although she’s filed an application for asylum as a sexual refugee, given the conservative French government’s new crackdown on illegal immigrants, Maryam could be deported back to Iran at any moment. “I don’t know what I will do if the French government sends me back to where my execution pillar is awaiting me!” she says.
Doug Ireland spoke to her by phone, aided by a Persian translator, from Paris, where she had traveled for a day to file documents for her asylum request. Here, in her own words, is Maryam’s story: