(Photo Credits: Screengrab from Masih Alinejad’s Twitter Account)

A young gay man from Iran named Alireza (Ali) Fazeli-Monfared was reportedly murdered and beheaded on Tuesday, May 4, by his half-brother and cousins in an alleged honor killing after they discovered his sexual orientation. The suspects found out that Fazeli-Monfared was gay through the military service exemption card sent by Iran’s conscription organization a few days before the killing. 

Fazeli-Monfared was not at home when the aforementioned military service exemption card arrived. The card stated that Fazeli-Monfared had been exempted from the country’s mandatory two-year military service due to “moral and sexual depravities such as transsexualism,” Iran International reports

Way before this incident however, Fazeli-Monfared’s half-brother had already been repeatedly complaining to their father about how Alireza’s “appearance and the way he dressed” is a dishonor and a shame to the family, says IranWire.

Aghil Bayat, Fazeli-Monfared’s partner, told IranWire in an interview that the latter talked to his mother on the phone for the last time at 7pm on Tuesday. Shortly after their conversation, Fazeli-Monfared’s half-brother arrived and told him that their father wanted to see him. Fazeli-Monfared was then taken to the nearby village of Borumi.

Bayat said: 

There was no news of him until Wednesday, when Alireza’s stepbrother [sic] called his mother and told her: ‘We have finished him off.’ In other words, he confessed to murdering Alireza. They found his body under some palm trees. It’s now with the medical examiner and his mother has been hospitalized because of the shock.

Fazeli-Monfared, who hailed from Khuzestan’s provincial capital Ahvaz, was only 20 years old. Contrary to some reports, no arrests have been made yet and Fazeli Monfared’s mother was only told otherwise by the police to “calm her down,” says NBC News.

According to Bayat, Fazeli-Monfared was filled with hope during the last few days of his life. Having been exempted from military service, he was planning to move to Turkey and join Bayat to “forge a new path and find a romantic relationship,” one that had “eluded him at home.” 

“Nothing is more difficult than to expect to see somebody you love in a few days, and suddenly you hear he is dead,” Bayat, who is an Arab LGBTQI activist, said to IranWire. “Nothing is more difficult than to never be able to see him, or hear his voice, forever. This is an excruciating pain that will remain in my heart to the end of time.”

Honor killing, in certain cultures, is defined as the killing of a relative, mostly females and LGBTQ people. Britannica said that the “killers justify their actions by claiming that the victim has brought dishonor upon the family name or prestige.” Anti-gay “honor violence” persists to this day, according to a 2019 study published in The Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

Meanwhile, a report in 2020 by Iranian LGBT+ network 6rang revealed that “more than six in 10 queer people from Iran have been assaulted by anti-LGBT+ family members.” PinkNews added that almost half of them have been sexually assaulted in public. 

Same-sex sexual activity is a crime in Iran and is punishable by death or imprisonment. Further, their law requires all male citizens aged 18 and above to serve in the military though gay and transgender people can “receive a medical exemption from service for their identity,” says NBC News. Iran has a military exemption law that says, in part, “a person can be freed from his military service duties, if he is ‘mentally ill’ (homosexual).” But this is a double-edged sword as getting exempted from the service also meant getting outed to their families.

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