Screen-Shot-2014-02-18-at-17.08.56Iran: Iran legally allows gender reassignment surgeries but being gay is worthy of the death sentence, reports

“In a country so strict on its homosexuality policy, it comes as a surprise to many outsiders that being transgender and having surgery to change one’s biological sex, is not only allowed, but actively encouraged by the Iranian government, proven by the fact that sex change operations are funded by the state,” said Rebecca Moore writing for

However, Iran joins Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Mauritania, Sudan and some parts of Nigeria and Somalia in condemning gays to the gallows. In Iran, a country with the second highest execution rate after China, an estimated 4,000 people have been executed since 1979 for their sexual orientation, it added.

Sex changes have been legal in Iran since Ayatollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution, passed a fatwa – a religious edict – authorizing them for ‘diagnosed transsexuals’ 25 years ago.  Consequently Iran has the second highest number of operations in the world.

Religious cleric Hojatol Islam Muhammad Mehdi Kariminia who is responsible for gender reassignment in Iran was reported as saying: ‘”Islam has a cure for people suffering from this problem. If they want to change their gender, the path is open.”

Another Iranian cleric has declared gender reassignment no more of a sin than “changing wheat to flour to bread,” the report added.

Iran has the highest amount of gender reassignment surgery carried out anywhere, except Thailand. Medical records show that between 2006 to 2010 there were 1,366 Iranians who acquired permits for a sex change operation, reports

It  is plausible to think that homosexuals who are suppressed and restricted by law from entering into relationships with members of the same sex may seriously consider a sex change, the report said.

The concern is that many transgender individuals are unnecessarily encouraged to undergo sex reassignment surgery seems a valid one, given the state funded hospital care, the legality and recognition of gender dysphoria, said the .

“They refer to all gays and lesbians as transsexuals and ask them to get surgeries. Iran is hell for all LGBT persons. The government has indoctrinated them to get surgeries, while the fact is that they become dismembered.  Many of them end up attempting suicide due to regret,” the report quoted Akan, an Iranian transgender who now lives in Canada, as saying.

The lack of transparency regarding treatment of the LGBT community in Iran and the low profile way most transgender people live make assessing the situation incredibly hard, said adding that there are reports from even transgender individuals who say they have been beaten and ostracized and subjected to lashings and custodial rape due to their appearance and behavior.