mostafa-eghlimaIran: An Iranian official has despite laws punishing same-sex relations with death in Iran spoken out against homophobia saying it is un-Islamic, inhumane and has no place in modern society.

“Homosexuals are biologically different from other people. This doesn’t make them a sinner or a criminal,” said Dr. Mostafa Eghlima, leader of the Iranian Social Workers Association, according to that cited an article in Iran’s popular online Nameh News.

“This biological difference is something similar to difference in height: you can’t ostracize people from society because they are shorter than others,” said Eghlima.

Those who are against gay people have a “Middle Ages mentality,” he said adding that officials who are against gay people “have no education” and cause a lot of social problems with their policies.

“In this society from the government to the police give homosexuals a hard time. We have buried these (gay) people alive. We have taken everything away from these people. This is inhumane and un-Islamic,” he said.

“In the past homosexuals had their place in society and nobody bothered them.  As long as the government discriminates against homosexuals there is going to be a problem,” Eghlima added.

No one can deny gay people a “right to life” or treat them “as if they have leprosy” them as he said, directly criticizing Iranian law that criminalizes any consensual same-sex relations  with punishment ranging from 100 lashes between women and the death penalty for those between two men.

The Islamic Penal Code also criminalizes same-sex touching and intimate kissing, which are punishable by up to 74 lashes.

Eghlima also pointed out that gay people “don’t need surgery to change their body” — another jibe at the law that legally allows gender reassignment surgeries which rights activists say gay people take recourse to in order to avoid the death penalty.

Activists point to the fact that Iran has the highest amount of gender reassignment surgery carried out anywhere, except Thailand.

“We have no right to harm God’s creatures. Harming homosexuals is selfish and ignorant, similar to harming someone because they are disabled. Islam treats all people equally. If we were to follow the letter of the law, everyone should be treated the same,” Eghlima said.

Eghlima’s comments are a striking departure from the typical attitude of Iran’s political and religious leaders about same-sex relations, says

Iran’s authoritarian Islamic regime consistently enforces anti-gay repression and homophobia that remain codified in law.

This has prompted human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission calling in Iran to expunge “homosexual acts” from its list of capital offenses.