Scott Long’s Iran essay refuted
Peter Tatchell reveals 20 smears and false allegations
Contemporary Politics essay: shoddy and sectarian
London - 27 November 2012
This document is a point-by-point refutation of Scott Long’s 20 false allegations, distortions and misrepresentations in his essay, Unbearable witness: how western activists (mis)recognize sexuality in Iran.
This essay was published by Routledge in its journal, Contemporary Politics, Vol 15, No 1, March 2009, pages 119-136.
Smearing Peter Tatchell and the LGBT human rights group OutRage!, Mr Long’s essay casts repeated doubt on their character, motives and integrity, with a series of selective quotations, out-of-context references and total falsehoods.
Mr Long ignored the plentiful evidence that contradicts and undermines his claims. This counter-evidence is on Peter Tatchell’s website - www.petertatchell.net - mostly in the subject index under Religion and International - Iran.
By his own admission, Mr Long consulted Peter Tatchell’s website and his essay quotes extensively from documents on it. This makes the many substantial errors, smears and false allegations in his essay look like either wilful or reckless misrepresentation – or a combination of both.
Mr Long gives readers an account that he knows, or should have known, is in many instances untrue.
Moreover, in his essay he does not mention (let alone criticise) the Iranian, Muslim and other LGBT and human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International, who made assertions similar to the assertions that he condemns Tatchell and OutRage! for making.
This seemingly selective attack is prima facie evidence of a sectarian, politically-motivated agenda and a personal vendetta.
Mr Long’s Contemporary Politics essay follows many years of personal attacks by him on Peter Tatchell and OutRage! His essay appears to be a continuation of these attacks.
Mr Long has every right to criticise Peter Tatchell and OutRage! But he does not have the right to indulge in distortions, misrepresentations and false allegations.
Some links to documents below are broken because the organisations concerned have made changes to their websites. Nevertheless, we have included the original link in order to preserve the historical record.
Here is the itemised, point-by-point refutation of Scott Long’s untrue claims, distortions and misrepresentations.
Peter Tatchell writes:
1. Page 121 (1)
Scott Long wrote:
“So he (Tatchell) went on to charge Makwan (Mouloudzadeh) with same-sex acts...Tatchell was mortally incriminating not only Makwan under Iranian law, but his co-accusers – now transformed into his ‘lovers.’ All, he implied, were guilty of consensual homosexual sex.”
The source of these allegations is cited in Mr Long’s footnotes as a news release on my website entitled “Iran to hang man for sodomy – 14 November 2007.”
Here is the link to that news release:
As you will see in the above-mentioned news release, contrary to what Mr Long claims, nowhere I am quoted as saying that Makwan Mouloudzadeh was gay or that the sex was consensual.
In fact, I pointed out that it was alleged by the Iranian authorities that he had raped another boy but that “no one involved in the case (ie. witnesses) accused Makwan of rape, according to research by the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission.”
Nor did I state that Makwan had same-sex relations at all. I said these were accusations by the Iranian authorities and that he was convicted of these alleged sexual acts by the Iranian courts.
I pointed out that Makwan’s supposed confession was extracted after ill-treatment and that the people who had accused him had withdrawn their accusations. At no point am I quoted as saying that sex occurred, or that the sex was consensual, or that it was between Makwan and his ‘lovers,’ as Mr Long alleges.
When I used the word “partner” I was using it in the sense of sexual partner, seeking a neutral term that neither denoted consent nor rape (since no one knows). The word ‘lovers’ does not appear in the news release, nor is it anywhere insinuated. It is an invention, a fabrication, by Mr Long.
The OutRage! news release did not say: Iran to hang gay man for sodomy. But Mr Long insinuates that this is what we did say. We said that sodomy was “alleged” by the Iranian authorities, not proven, and that there were, for various reasons stated, serious doubts about the reliability of the claims by those authorities.
OutRage! and I agree that there was no evidence that Makwan was gay or had engaged in same-sex acts, consensual or otherwise. We did not suggest that Makwan was gay or had had gay sex.
I did say that Makwan was “the latest victim of Tehran’s on-going homophobic campaign.” But I was not thereby suggesting that he was gay or had had gay sex. I was referring to the fact that he had been convicted of an alleged homosexual rape under Iran’s anti-gay laws, which make no distinction between consensual and non-consensual gay sex (both carry the death penalty).
My point was that Makwan’s conviction and execution for alleged same-sex acts under homophobic laws was evidence of the on-going homophobic nature of the Tehran regime. The fact that the authorities used an anti-gay law against him was homophobic (even if he was not gay and had not had gay sex). Innocent straight men can be victims of miscarriages of justice and of homophobic legislation.
The OutRage! news release links supportively to the Amnesty International report on the case and to its Urgent Action campaign, which Mr Long refers to in approving tones in his essay.
Here is a link to the Amnesty news release on the case:
The OutRage! and Amnesty accounts of the case are broadly similar.
The OutRage! news release cited by Mr Long also includes details of the protest campaign organised by the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), which raised similar doubts about the charges against Makwan, including doubts that he had had committed same-sex acts, let alone rape. Contrary to Mr Long’s insinuations, by including the IGLHRC submission we were showing agreement with its doubts and reservations.
The fact that Mr Long chose to distort what I said and single me out for criticism, but not Amnesty International and IGLHRC, which were making similar points, is, I believe, evidence that his essay is politically motivated and biased against myself and OutRage! - a continuation of his long-standing political sniping against us.
In supporting the efforts to save Makwan’s life, OutRage! and I acted in concert with respected international human rights groups such as Amnesty and IGLHRC. But only OutRage! and I received a written lashing from Mr Long in his essay. Why the double standards?
Neither myself nor OutRage! supported the Gruppo Everyone campaign in defence of Makwan, for many of the same reasons that Mr Long did not. Yet his criticisms of us are bundled together in his essay with his criticisms of Gruppo Everyone, as if we were saying the same thing. We were not. We disagreed with aspects of the Gruppo Everyone campaign.
Mr Long’s cumulative criticisms imply that OutRage! and I were among the activists who endangered Makwan’s life and damaged attempts to save him from execution. These are gravely untrue allegations, for which Mr Long provides no evidence.
2. Page 122 (1)
Scott Long wrote:
“The [Iranian] regime sometimes frames gay people with false charges of rape and child sex abuse,” he (Tatchell) wrote.....“This,” he added blandly, “is what happened in the case of 21-year-old Makwan Moloudzadeh,”
His source for the above quote is my Guardian article dated 26 March 2008, entitled: Galloway’s Iranian propaganda? Here is the link:
The words Long quotes are taken out of context. When my article is read in its totality it is clear that I did not say that Makwan was gay or that he had had gay sex. In fact, I questioned both these assumptions, with my emphasis that his confession was reportedly made as result of torture and was later retracted, along with the accusations made by alleged witnesses / victims.
This points to me suggesting that Makwan was not guilty of any offence.
In the section of my article quoted by Mr Long, I was highlighting that Iran does sometimes put untrue charges on people, which chimes with an interpretation that Makwan may not have been gay let alone guilty of gay sex. Far from claiming that Makwan was gay, I was stressing that he was subjected to unproven and false allegations, as has been the fate of other Iranian men previously.
If I had wanted to state that Makwan was gay and had had gay sex, I would have done so clearly and explicitly.
When read together with the above-mentioned OutRage! news release on the Makwan case:
(which Mr Long quoted and was therefore fully aware of), it is obvious that my Guardian article was not saying what Mr Long suggests.
As with my other public pronouncements, in this Guardian article I did not state that Makwan was gay or had had gay sex. I avoided saying this because none of us could know the truth on that score.
My Guardian article said it was alleged by the Iranian authorities that Makwan had gay sex and had committed gay sex offences. Moreover, it raised the possibility that he may have been framed on false gay sex and rape charges by his accusers or by the Iranian regime – which is the opposite of Mr Long’s interpretation of my words.
I link to an Amnesty International report in my Guardian article. This report also mentions forced confessions and false allegations, including the unfairness of Makwan’s trial and the fact that his accusers had withdrawn their allegations. See here:
My Guardian article also links to a report from Mr Long’s employer at the time, Human Rights Watch, which likewise suggests that Makwan may have been framed. See here:
In other words, my Guardian article text and links – and the 14 November 2007 OutRage! news release cited above – all suggest the opposite of what Mr Long claims. He has seriously distorted and misrepresented OutRage! and myself.
3. Page 122 (2)
Scott Long wrote, accusing OutRage! and I of:
“....going after British Muslims – members of an embattled minority with none of the authority Christianity could claim – had a different bullying tone.”
This “going after” and “bullying” claim is factually untrue, and Mr Long provides no evidence for it. It is an unsubstantiated claim that is far removed from the truth.
Neither Outrage! nor I have never gone after “British Muslims”. I have criticised Islamist fundamentalists, but not in a “different bullying tone.” I have criticised them in the same way that I have criticised Christian, Judaist and Hindu fundamentalists.
In fact, my campaigns against Christian fundamentalists have been far more frequent and strident that my criticisms of Islamist fundamentalists, as with the outing of 10 Anglican bishops in 1994, the cartoon mockery of the Pope at Euro-Pride London in 2006, the interruption of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Easter Service in 1998, and the releasing of condoms during High Mass at Westminster Roman Catholic Cathedral in 1993. The robustness of these protests far surpasses that of any protest I or OutRage! have done against Islamist fundamentalism.
My campaigns against Islamist fundamentalists have therefore not been different and bullying, compared to my campaigns against Christian fundamentalists. Mr Long is factually wrong.
Moreover, I have always carefully distinguished between “British Muslims” and extreme Islamist fundamentalists. I have never equated the two.
Far from being anti-Muslim, I have been for many years in constructive, comradely dialogue with leading members of the Muslim Council or Britain, British Muslims for Secular Democracy, the Quilliam Foundation, the London Muslim Centre and with the Muslim theologians Sheikh Muhammad Yusuf and the late Sheikh Zaki Badawi. I have defended and supported Sheikh Mohammed Kazem al-Khaqani, and have appeared on the Islam TV Channel, spoken at mosques and on various Muslim webcasts. There has been nothing remotely bullying about these dialogues.
The fact that I have been invited by Muslims to engage with them suggests that they do not regard me as anti-Muslim or acting in the unreasonable, bullying manner that Mr Long suggests in his essay.
I opposed the prosecution of the leader of the MCB, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, despite his homophobic outburst on BBC Radio 4. Indeed, after he attacked the LGBT community I went out of my way to reiterate my appeal for gay and Muslim solidarity, as this example on my website illustrates:
Mr Long appears to have deliberately ignored my positive, friendly overtures to the Muslim community in his apparent bid to imply that I am anti-Muslim. The truth is that his repeated insinuations that I am hostile to Muslims and bullying against Muslims does not stand up. There is no evidence to substantiate this untrue smear.
Mr Long has, according to his own admission, extensively examined my website and he has cited my many publications there. He is therefore well aware of the content of my website and of my support for Muslim victims of injustice. He has chosen to ignore this content and has instead presented a selective, biased, one-sided and unbalanced depiction of my stance on Muslim issues and people.
As Mr Long well knows, much of my human rights work involves supporting and publicising the plight of victimised Muslim prisoners and asylum seekers – gay and straight.
I have been prominent in the campaigns to defend Muslims in the UK unjustly accused of terrorism, including Hicham Yezza:
and Hyrbyair Marri and Faiz Baluch:
I stood bail and provided evidence for Mr Baluch during his terrorism trial, which helped result in his acquittal (and Mr Marri's).
I have also helped defend Muslim victims of miscarriages of justice, such as Mohammed S:
I have been prominently involved in campaigns in support of the rights of persecuted Sunni Muslims in Iran, against Russian war crimes in Muslim Chechnya, and for the rights of the Palestinian people.
The suggestion that I am anti-Muslim and have bullied Muslims - either in action or tone - is absurd and false.
4. Page 122 (3)
Following his false accusation that I had bullied Muslims, Scott Long cites my 1995 warning about the potential for Muslim voters who are homophobic to influence election outcomes in some key marginal UK constituencies.
Mr Long selectively quotes from my article:
“Homophobic Muslim voters may be able to influence the outcome of elections.”
This is the full text of what I wrote in 1995:
This article and the above quote is, of course, a statement of fact. I have made similar claims about the potential electoral influence of LGBT voters, and also warned of the dangers of anti-gay, anti-Semitic, anti-black and anti-Muslim BNP supporters affecting the result in certain constituencies. Other pundits have made similar predictions about the potential influence of UKIP and Green voters on elections outcomes. These assessments are both factual and reasonable.
Mr Long failed to mention that I was not saying that all Muslims are homophobic. In fact, I stressed that the homophobic, fundamentalist element was “small” and that “not all Muslims are anti-gay.” I emphasised in this article that were still “many...tolerant” Muslims. These careful qualifications by me were ignored by Mr Long. He gave an entirely false impression about what I had written. A further distortion and untruth.
5. Page 122 (4)
Scott Long wrote:
“OutRage! showed a keen eye for publicity openings. A grim one came on 7 July 2005...No facts supported Tatchell’s claims....(it) might well expose Tatchell to criticism that he was exploiting calamity for publicity.”
Mr Long then went on to cite the carnage of the terrorist attacks in London that day.
This insinuates entirely falsely, and without any evidence, that we issued this warning purely for cynical publicity purposes and not out of any genuine concern for the safety of the LGBT community. This is factually untrue.
You can see from our news release that we did not in any way demonise Muslims or blame Muslims in general, as Mr Long insinuates in his essay.
Read what I actually said here:
We did not issue this warning in isolation or because Islamist terrorists were involved. It was motivated solely by our desire to protect the LGBT community. We would have issued the same warning if any other terrorists had been planting bombs in London. Our news release was a perfectly reasonable warning and caution. If we had not issued that warning and gay venues had been bombed, we would have been roundly and rightly condemned for complacency.
The Jewish community was also at the same time issuing similar warnings that Jewish synagogues and organisations could be targeted by Islamist terrorists. But Mr Long did not misrepresent and besmirch the Jewish community groups as Islamophobic. He singled us out.
Mr Long ignores the fact that OutRage! issued a similar and correct warning in 1999 that gay bars were a possible bomb target for neo-Nazis. This warning was in connection with the terrorist campaign by the fascist, homophobic, white supremacist, David Copeland. Sadly, our warning was ignored by many, and Mr Copeland went on the bomb the Admiral Duncan gay bar in Soho, killing three people and wounding 70 others.
Because of this dreadful experience, after the 7/7 bombings we did not want to take a chance and delay warning gay venues to heighten their security. Better to err on the side of caution, we reasoned.
Following the 7 July 2005 terror bombings in London, and the fact that extreme Islamists had professed violent hatred of LGBT people and had condemned bars and clubs as dens of vice and sin, it was not unreasonable to express concern that gay venues could be targeted and that they should increase their security. Indeed, some months later, the police revealed that they had discovered an Islamist plot to bomb nightclubs.
Moreover, at the time, three members of OutRage! - myself, Brett Lock and our then Muslim Affairs spokesperson, Aaron Saeed - had received death threats from Islamist fundamentalists, which indicated that LGBT people were on the radar of Muslim extremists who were threatening violence.
Our media warning was informed, reasoned, temperate and well intended. Mr Long’s misrepresentation of our motives is abhorrent and evidence of ignorance and poor research.
6. Page 122 (5)
Scott Long further wrote:
“Tatchell has removed this release (re the bomb warning) from his website, probably because of its inflammatory nature.”
This is slur is wholly untrue. The news release was not removed from my website. It was never there in the first place. My website was not functional at the time the news release issued. This meant that the news release cited by Mr Long was not placed there. But it was placed on the OutRage! website (which was later destroyed by political hackers and the items there are no longer accessible or retrievable).
It was also placed on the LGBT Greens website at my request (because I could not put it on the OutRage! website). It remains there as you can see:
Mr Long’s claim implies that I acted in an underhand and disreputable way, removing the news release because I was feeling guilty and knew it was inflammatory and wrong. This is a untrue. I stand by that news release, dated 18 July 2005, without any shame and confirm that I have never tried to hide it.
7. Pages 123 and 124 (1)
Scott Long alleges that OutRage! and I had mistakenly and recklessly claimed the two youths hanged on 19 July 2005 in Mashhad, Iran - Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni - were gay and were executed for being gay and that we did not mention that the Iranian media reported that they were hanged for “sodomy by force.”
The allegation that we failed to mention the sex by force claims is untrue. Our very first news release, on 21 July 2005, mentioned the allegation that the two youths had committed a sexual assault. See here:
This news release clearly mentions reports that “the youths were executed for sexually assaulting a 13 year old boy.”
So why is Mr Long saying that we failed to mention the assault claims? He is portraying us as deceivers, which we are not.
We received a translation of the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) report on the hangings (which was in Farsi) from inside Iran, from the underground LGBT e-magazine collective, MAHA, in Tehran. It was corroborated by a London-based Iranian Farsi-speaking asylum seeker that I contacted.
We could not name MAHA as our primary source at the time, owing to their request to not identify them. They feared that if they were publicly identified their members might be arrested, jailed, tortured and worse. MAHA has since dissolved, so we now feel able to name the group (although we request that it is not widely circulated, as there is still a small risk of revenge being taken against their former members by the Iranian authorities).
What we did was question the truth and accuracy of the allegations of forced sodomy. We did this at the behest of MAHA. They suggested to us that the hanged youths were probably gay, probably hanged for gay sex and that they were sceptical about the allegations of rape.
MAHA also told us that the allegations of sexual assault against the 13 year old boy may have been inventions by the Iranian police and courts, as part of a homophobic propaganda drive or in a bid to diffuse hostile public and international reactions to the executions.
MAHA also suggested that the allegations of assault may have arisen because the highly conservative Iranian religious and judicial officials could not conceive of the idea that any 13 year old would willingly consent to what they viewed, as devout believers, to be the grave sin of sodomy. Homosexuality being such a huge taboo in Iran, perhaps officials could only imagine that the sexual acts must have been violent and coercive. These are, however, conjectures and speculations by MAHA. There is no proof.
We did not state that these theories were correct; only that they were possibilities. It is very regrettable and remiss that Mr Long did not even mention these possibilities in his very lengthy essay on this case (which anyone informed about Iranian culture and law should have been aware of, even in the absence of direct knowledge of MAHA’s observations).
What we know is that MAHA had been a credible source of information previously. We had been in contact with MAHA and trusted MAHA. They told us that the two teenagers were probably gay and were probably hanged for being gay. MAHA subsequently reiterated this belief a year later on the first anniversary of the hangings. They said:
“For the record, we believe the two teenagers were hanged because of their homosexuality. The authorities are well-known for pinning false charges on the victims they execute. We urge people to never take at face value the charges claimed by the courts and newspapers. They are not reliable.”
See MAHA’s full statement here:
Unlike myself and OutRage!, Afdhere Jama, editor of the now defunct US-based queer Muslim magazine Huriyah - http://www.huriyahmag.com - took the view that the hanged youths were gay and that the rape claims were false. See his quotes below [Page 124 (2)]
and at the end of this briefing:
And see Mr Jama’s blog here:
Neither MAHA nor Mr Jama have been attacked by Mr Long in the way we have, which suggests a biased, selective, politically-motivated smear campaign against us by Mr Long.
8. Page 124 (2)
Scott Long claims:
“For months, confronted with the error, Tatchell insisted that his version of the Farsi was correct, and everyone else’s wrong.”
This is untrue. We did not ignore the facts for “months.” Less than a month after the hangings, I wrote a provisional reassessment of the case which explored many of these issues. See here:
This important document raised many of the doubts about the charges against the hanged youths, which I am again reiterating here.
We accept that the news reports did say “sodomy by force.” However, given Iran’s history of false charges and unfair trials, plus the conservative, homophobic nature of the Quds newspaper which originated the story, we are not confident that the two teens were guilty of rape. We are not saying that they did not rape, but we have serious doubts.
The allegations of rape originated with pro-regime newspaper Quds, which is fairly hardline and known for moral crusades. Its report should not be dismissed out of hand but it should be treated with considerable scepticism.
The official Iranian version of the case against Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni is riddled with contradictions, implausibilities and outright lies.
For example: At first it was claimed by the Iranian authorities that the hanged teens were aged 18 and 19, then that they were 19 and 21, then aged 18 and 20, and finally they made the claim that they were both above 18 at the time of their alleged crimes. The regime changed the youths supposed ages four times in the space of a few days – evidence that the Iranian authorities are not necessarily a credible source of facts about the case.
The lawyer for one youth was quoted by ISNA as saying that he was under 18. It is possible that they were minors, aged 15 or 16, at the time of their alleged crimes, which were committed over a year prior to their execution. The execution of minors under 18 is in flagrant breach of international agreements the Tehran regime has signed.
Regarding the rape charges: The Iranian penal code makes no distinction between sodomy with consent and sodomy without consent. There appears to be no offence in Iranian law of rape of a male or of sodomy by force.
These questions concerning possible false charges, unfair trials and the absence of an offence of sodomy by force or rape of a male are issues that Mr Long curiously failed to address in his very lengthy essay.
Moreover, as evidence of Mr Long’s bias and ill-will towards myself and OutRage!, it is noticeable that his essay does not attack others who raised similar doubts about the official Iranian version of the Mashhad executions, such the Persian Lesbian and Gay Organisation (PGLO). See here:
Afdhere Jama also supports the view that Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni were probably gay and probably hanged because of their homosexuality. He bases his belief on evidence he received from three people in the city of Mashhad, where they were hanged, including information from a person who knew the family of Ayaz Marhoni.
Afdhere Jama stated in a public release:
“According to my sources, the boys were arrested about a year and couple of months before the execution. On the day of their arrest, five boys were fondling each other in a semi-public area. Their ages were 13, 14, 15, 15 (Mahmoud), and 17 (Ayaz). These are all boys that knew each other, and had homosexual relations with each other (possibly over a period of weeks or months).
“A woman called her civilian police husband who then tried to arrest them all (with the help of civilians), but only Ayaz, Mahmoud and a 13 year old boy were caught.
“Because the age of consent for men in Iran is 15, the 13 year old boy is automatically then classified raped by then15 year old Mahmoud and 17 year old Ayaz. So, in the eyes of the Iranian law, that boy was raped. Whether the other boys were a few years older or not is not even a question, not to mention whether he (the 13 year old) was a willing participant. Because the issue is homosexuality, it even carries a harsher sentence.
“It should be noted that none of the claims about ‘knife’ and ‘drunk’ are true, but trumped up claims to support how these ‘heterosexual’ boys raped a ‘heterosexual’ teen. The father of the 13 year old boy claimed his son was raped because in the conservative society of Iran it is much better to have a heterosexual raped son than a homosexual willing participant. Everyone and anyone from the east can identify with this.
“In reality, however, these boys faced many charges, including resisting arrest (for running away), disrupting public peace (because apparently the whole neighbourhood was in chaos because everyone wanted to hurt the boys who were committing homosexuality), public indecency (for having homosexual sex in public), and ultimately for homosexual/sodomy rape of men (which carries much tougher penalty than a heterosexual rape, for the 13 year old), etc.
“It should also be noted that the Quds daily (newspaper) Human Rights Watch relied on is a government-controlled news agency, who have in the past and the present contribute news only acceptable to the government. As far as I know, there are really no independent Iranian news agencies which dealt with this story - because they could not honestly deal with it and get away with it,” said Mr Jama.
See a version of this account here:
Mr Long is, I believe, well aware of Mr Jama’s claims. Why did he not condemn and attack him in his Contemporary Politics essay?
Mr Long also did not attack the Persian Lesbian and Gay Organisation, which had likewise expressed reservations about the state-sanctioned version of the charges against the executed youths.
Nor did he denounce Louis-Georges Tin, coordinator of the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), who coordinated global protests against the executions and who raised similar doubts to OutRage! and myself.
The question is this: why did Mr Long one-sidedly and selectively attack me and OutRage! and not others who took a broadly similar stance to us? This is evidence that Mr Long’s essay is part of the on-going feud that he is pursuing against us.
9. Page 124 (3)
Scott Long wrote:
“His (Tatchell’s) words suggest his comradeship with the NCRI / MKO.”
This is untrue. Another sly slur. I have never supported the Iranian opposition group, the NCRI / MKO. Many years ago, they played a significant role in opposing the clerical dictatorship. However, I have criticised them and mentioned the reports of their human rights abuses, while also stressing that these abuses pale into insignificance compared to the abuses of the Tehran regime (as Mr Long later acknowledges that I said – on page 124 of his essay). I did not highlight the Iran regime’s tyranny in order to white-wash or downplay the NCRI / MKO abuses, but to put them in perspective. To insinuate that I support the NCRI / MKO or that I am uncritical of them is another smear / false allegation.
Scroll down this news report by UK Gay News, to read what I said about the NCRI / MKO: http://www.ukgaynews.org.uk/archive/2005july/2801.htm
10. Page 124 (4)
Scott Long wrote:
“Tatchell told The Nation that Iranian dissidents had translated the ISNA story for him. He also affirmed that he based his claims about the youths on consultations with ‘dissidents affiliated with the NCRI.’”
This nonsense. I do not know any dissidents affiliated to the NCRI and I did not consult any such dissidents. As I explained above, my initial and prime source was MAHA, based inside Iran. They did a translation and their translation was corroborated by a Iranian asylum seeker in London. This asylum seeker was apolitical and had no political affiliation. The NRCI / MKO had nothing whatsoever to do with providing the ISNA news story, translating it or providing information about the youths.
11. Page 124 (5)
Scott Long goes on to condemn my description of the Iranian leaders as “Islamo-fascists,” as being “Tatchell’s typical rhetoric about Islam.”
This insinuates that I typically attack Islam and Muslims as Islamo-fascists. Not true at all. I reserve the description Islamo-fascist for only extreme fundamentalists, like the Taliban and the leaders in Tehran, who violate human rights and suppress civil liberties. To suggest that this is the standard way I talk about Islam and Muslims is reprehensible and untrue. Mr Long provides no evidence for his slur because there is none.
My website has many articles, speeches and news releases about Muslims and Muslim issues. In not one of them do I refer to ordinary Muslims, or even to homophobic Muslims, as Islamo-fascists. The term Islamo-fascist is very rarely used by me.
12. Page 125
Scott Long asserts that his version of events is based on the “known facts.”
However, even accepting that the press reports said the hanged youths were executed for “sodomy by force”, this is not necessarily proof that they committed sodomy, either with or without consent. These are not known facts. They are what the Iranian judiciary and state-restricted media alleges. Surprisingly, for a human rights advocate, Mr Long seems to take for the granted the claims of a dictatorship.
The Iranian regime is notorious for framing people on false charges, and the Iranian media often uncritically reports these false charges as facts, as we saw in 2009 with the trumped up charges against pro-democracy protesters and the subsequent show trials.
We saw the lies poured out by the regime about the murder in June 2009 of Tehran pro-democracy protester Neda Agha Soltan, whose death they variously tried to blame on other protesters and foreign agents. This is evidence that official Iranian accounts can never be taken at face value and are sometimes outright lies.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have long condemned Iran’s unfair trials, based on untrue or no evidence, with no proper legal representation for the defendants and with the exclusion of defence witnesses and forensic reports.
There must be serious doubt whether the rape charge against the two teens was true and whether they had a fair trial. Mr Long’s essay does not explore these possibilities. This is a very odd omission for a human rights defender.
13. Page 125 (2)
In the context of his attack on me and OutRage!, Scott Long claims that the “limits” of caring “only” extended to the hanged youths if they were gay, that there was no sympathy expressed by LGBT campaigners for the 13 year old alleged rape victim and that this rape victim was “reviled for providing a pretext for their (the two teenagers) killing.”
This is a further false allegation. I have 45-year-long record of opposing all human rights abuses everywhere, opposing the death penalty in all circumstances and opposing the jailing, torture and execution of Iranians for any reason:
I certainly did not revile the 13 year old and I have found no evidence that anyone else reviled him either. I invite Mr Long to produce his evidence for this claim. This is a crude, sensationalist and unsubstantiated smear, with no references to back it up.
14. Page 126
Scott Long wrote:
“OutRage! repeated the claims (about the execution of the two youths) credulously while incessantly suggesting that they had direct evidence from inside Iran – and they did not.”
This is untrue. As I explained above, our first and primary source about the Mashhad hangings came from MAHA, based inside Iran. They sent us the initial ISNA news story and later, in July 2006, issued a statement confirming their belief that the executed youths were gay and were executed for being gay. MAHA wrote:
“For the record, we believe the two teenagers were hanged because of their homosexuality. The authorities are well-known for pinning false charges on the victims they execute. We urge people to never take at face value the charges claimed by the courts and newspapers.”
Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Mr Long keeps making untrue allegations. In fact, unlike OutRage!, he appears to have pronounced his verdict on the teen hangings without checking first with LGBT activists inside Iran.
15. Page 127
Scott Long wrote:
“Campaigners attacked the 13 year old victim of an alleged rape...OutRage! accused him of wanting the rape: ‘It could be that the 13 year old was a willing participant.’ (Tatchell 2005)....The spectacle of gay rights activists belittling violent sexual assault, and blaming the victim, was astonishing and disturbing.”
This is smear is a reference to the 13 year old that the two hanged youths were accused of raping.
Neither I, OutRage! nor any other campaigners have “attacked” or “blamed” the 13 year old. I ask Mr Long to produce the evidence for this claim. He cannot do so because it is fiction.
The slur by Mr Long that we said the 13 year wanted to be raped is probably the most grave falsehood in Mr Long’s factually shoddy essay. It is a shameful, and seemingly malicious, misrepresentation of what I actually wrote in the 27 July 2005 news release, which Mr Long cites as evidence. He read and referenced this news release but chose to (apparently) wilfully misrepresent it.
This is what I wrote in the news release from which Mr Long selectively quotes in a way that distorts and misrepresents our standpoint. We offer a possible alternative explanation to the official account of rape:
“The allegation of rape may be a trumped up charge to undermine public sympathy for the youths. The Iranian regime often resorts to smears and false allegations to discredit people it has executed and to undermine human rights campaigns. It could be that the 13 year old was a willing participant but that Iranian law (like the laws of many western nations) deems that no person aged 13 is capable of sexual consent and that therefore even consensual sexual contact is automatically deemed in law to be statutory rape.”
See our 27 July 2005 news release here:
There is no way that this statement can be construed as saying that the 13 year old wanted to be raped, or blaming or attacking him, as Mr Long alleges.
Moreover, in the above quoted section from Mr Long’s essay, he appears to uncritically accept that the allegations of rape are true (they may or may not be true), even though Mr Long’s own organisation, Human Rights Watch, had previously repeatedly highlighted the flaws in the Iranian legal system which have often resulted in false charges, unfair trials, unreliable convictions and unjustified executions.
For example, student activists have been smeared as hooligans and a Sunni Muslim leader as a drug user, sodomite and alcoholic.
The Persian Lesbian and Gay Organisation (PGLO) has stated that it is unclear whether the hanged youths were rapists:
“They were allegedly accused of rape, and because of this, these two young boys were publicly executed. It is not clear if these charges were true or not.”
Yet PGLO’s doubts and reservations never attracted the wrath and ire of Mr Long. This is further evidence that his attacks on OutRage! and me seem to reflect a personal grudge and political vendetta.
There is a further possible explanation as to why the rape allegations could be untrue, which Mr Long should have, but failed to, examine.
According to some reports, the claim of rape was confirmed by the 13 year old boy’s father. Even if this is true, his confirmation does not necessarily prove that a rape took place. No father in Iran would want to admit that his son had consensual gay sex. It would bring shame to the family and could render the son liable to severe punishments like flogging and possibly even to execution.
If the father’s son did have sex with Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni, it would not be surprising if the 13 year old and his father said that he was raped; otherwise, if it was shown that his son was a willing participant, his son could have been hanged as well as the two teenagers and the family would have become social pariahs for having a child who had committed sodomy.
It is entirely plausible, although not, of course, an established fact, that when the 13 year old was arrested, in order to avoid being punished, he claimed that he was raped and that his father backed up his claim. Any father would do this, in order to save his son from imprisonment, flogging and possible execution.
Our contacts in MAHA told us that false allegations of rape are sometimes used by parents to spare a family the social shame of having an adulterous daughter or a gay son and to save their child from execution.
All these various possible explanations, and Mr Long’s rape claims are, however, problematic, as Iranian law does not include a statute criminalising the rape of a male or sodomy by force. No such offence exists. Iranian law makes no distinction between consenting and non-consenting homosexual acts. This is another issue that Mr Long failed to examine in his essay.
16. Page 131 (1)
Scott Long wrote that after British MP Jack Straw said in 2006 that he would prefer Muslim women to not be fully veiled, covering their faces, when visiting his offices, OutRage! “intervened” in the debate to “warn gays that their citizenship and lives might be incompatible with Muslims.”
This is entirely untrue. We made no intervention into the Jack Straw controversy at all and Mr Long provides no references for his false claims.
Moreover, we have never said that gay people and gay rights might be “incompatible” with Muslims. Indeed, OutRage! had leading Muslim members in that period, such as Aaron Saeed, Ramzi Isalam, Ali Hili and Mohamed S. We were, at the time, in dialogue with Muslim organisations, such as the Muslim Council of Britain, to build bridges and solidarity between the gay and Muslim communities. See here:
These fictitious allegations by Mr Long are deeply offensive and unfounded. He has portrayed us as the exact opposite of what we are.
17. Page 131 (2)
Scott Long then goes on to claim that “an OutRage! member” requested a meeting with “the imam of a Manchester mosque.”
This is untrue. The person concerned, Dr John Casson, a psychotherapist, was not and is not a member of OutRage!. Before and since he passed us the information he has had no connection with us. His meeting with the imam was on his own private initiative. Mr Long has yet again made up allegations to fit his anti-OutRage! and anti-Tatchell agenda.
18. Page 131 (3)
Scott Long continues by claiming that:
“OutRage went public with a press release, sounding as though the imam had told his congregation to take matters into their own hands.”
This is totally untrue. The OutRage! news release made it crystal clear that the imam’s remarks were made during a personal meeting between him and Dr Casson – and were therefore not a public pronouncement, let alone an incitement for his “congregation to take matters into their own hands.” See here:
Both Dr Casson and I are quoted in the news release that Mr Long cites. We urged respect and solidarity between gays and Muslims – the precise opposite of the anti-Muslim agenda and tone that Mr Long insinuates in his essay. Once again Mr Long has slurred OutRage! (and myself as its lead spokesperson by implication) with false claims.
19. Page 131 (4)
Scott Long claims
“OutRage!...does not speak to possible Muslim victims – it obliterates their agency, and it makes them still more invisible, more recognizable, and still less unheard.”
These are outrageous lies. OutRage! has done more than any other LGBT group in the UK to defend, support, visibilise and promote the public profile of LGBT Muslims – both as victims of injustice and as campaigners for LGBT human rights.
OutRage! has had a series of LGBT Muslims prominent in its membership, public campaigns and press coverage, including Raza Griffiths, Ramzi Isalam, Aaron Saeed, Ali Hili and the imam Mohamed S – all of whom have spoken at public meetings and were quoted in the press, giving them agency, visibility, recognisability and a hearing – contrary to Mr Long’s slurs.
See this letter written by Ramzi Isalam on OutRage!’s behalf and published in The Guardian:
And see him quoted here:
Here are just a few examples of the dozens of LGBT Muslims that OutRage! has championed, visibilised and empowered:
OutRage! supported A Z in his successful nursing agency employment tribunal case in 2005:
OutRage! helped secure asylum for Iranian Mehdi Kazemi in 2008:
OutRage! defended and assisted in securing the release from prison of the miscarriage of justice victim, Mohamed S in 2006:
OutRage! publicised the fight for justice by Sid Saeed, when he fought and won his employment case against Deutsche Bank in 2005:
These examples refute absolutely Mr Long’s false allegations against us.
20. Page 132
Scott Long denounces the “LGBT isolationism of groups like OutRage!”, suggesting that we fail to collaborate with other groups and fail to make common cause; that we are a narrow gay-obsessed organisation and neglect other human rights issues and other disadvantaged communities. This is insulting, offensive and downright untrue.
Of all the LGBT groups in the world, OutRage! is one of the least isolationist. We are one of the LGBT groups that most often and most successfully builds alliances and acts in solidarity with other LGBT groups and with other victimised communities.
Our philosophy is that LGBT rights are part of the broad human rights agenda. We recognise the importance of solidarity with and between all victims of human rights abuses - and with and between diverse human rights organisations. .
To this end, we have, for example, joined marches and spoke at conferences against the Iraq war, the curtailment of civil liberties and Britain’s draconian anti-terror and anti-asylum laws. OutRage! has rallied in support of the Palestinian people, jailed Iranian trade unionists and women’s rights campaigners, Saudi political prisoners, democracy activists in Zimbabwe and persecuted ethnic minority peoples in the UK and worldwide.
Despite their homophobia and sexism, we have sought dialogue with religious fundamentalists of all kinds and built alliances with progressive people within all faiths, including Muslims.
Scott Long should have known about this broad, non-isolationist agenda, as he admits to examining Peter Tatchell’s website and he quotes extensively from it.
See these examples of OutRage!’s non-isolationist and broad human rights agenda:
Solidarity with Muslims, Jews and black people against the neo-Nazi BNP:
Support for asylum seekers:
Solidarity with jailed Iranian trade unionists:
Opposition to the Iraq war and to military threats against Iran:
Solidarity with Iraqi women’s rights campaigners:
Commemoration vigil for Jamaica’s slain gay rights leader:
Scott Long’s essay in Contemporary Politics is the embodiment of selective quotation, misrepresentation, distortion and false claims. It is poorly researched and exhibits shoddy, low standards of scholarship, lacking in evidence and substantiation on many key points.
Moreover, the sustained and systematic nature of the misrepresentation by Mr Long is prima facie evidence of a malicious attempt to discredit Peter Tatchell and OutRage!
Peter Tatchell - 27 November 2012
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