Subscribe to Secularism is a Womens Issue

Secularism is a Women’s Issue

Home > fundamentalism / shrinking secular space > Iran: Save Sareh and Elham’s lives

Iran: Save Sareh and Elham’s lives

Amnesty Int. Decries Death Sentence For Two Iranian LGBTQ Activists

Monday 12 September 2022, by siawi3


Iran: Save Sareh and Elham’s lives


Sareh and Elham were sentenced to death because of their activism. Help save their lives.

Update – 05 September 2022: Today, following public outrage over their arrest, Iranian authorities justified the ruling by claiming that Sareh and Elham have been involved in “trafficking women to a neighbouring country” and denied they were being sentenced to death because of their activism. We must dial up the pressure right now to help save Sareh and Elham’s lives.


Update – 01 September: Today, Sareh has been sentenced to death by the dictatorship in Iran for “Corruption on Earth”. Her friend Elham Choubdar has been sentenced to death for the same reason. Sometime after Sareh’s arrest, Elham was also arrested while in Iran and, similarly to Sareh, was charged with “encouraging corruption and prostitution.” The forced confessions of other detainees were used as evidence against her. Sareh is 31 years old and Elham is only 24! We must dial up the pressure right now to help save Sareh and Elham’s lives.


In October 2021, Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani, a gender equality activist also known as Sareh, was arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in Iran while she was attempting to cross the border to seek asylum in Turkey. She was charged with crossing the border illegally and targeted for participating in an interview with BBC Persian and speaking up on the situation of LGBT+ persons in Erbil, Iraq.

In a statement, the IRGC accused Sareh of: “Promoting homosexuality, gambling, fraud, and promoting illicit sexual relations and publishing them on the Internet." No evidence has been offered by the IRGC to substantiate these baseless accusations, nor has Sareh benefitted from any due process. Reports indicate that Sareh was coerced into confessing to these “crimes,” potentially through acts of torture, including solitary confinement and threats that the State will take custody of her two children.

These accusations can lead to capital punishment.

It is clear to all of us that what has taken place is not due process, but a re-run of a show familiar to many of us who grew up in the suffocating atmosphere of the Islamic Republic. Sareh must be released immediately and unconditionally.

We ask you not to ignore Sareh’s detention and sign this petition for her freedom.

This campaign is run by 6Rang and ILGA Asia, in conjunction with 55 organisations that signed this statement.



To Chief Justice of Iran, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Eje’i:

We expressly condemn the unjust and cruel arrest and detention of Sareh and Elham by the IRGC, and equally condemn the accusations of ‘spreading corruption on earth,’ including through ‘promoting homosexuality.’ We are aware and alarmed that these accusations can lead to a criminal conviction in Iran that could lead to capital punishment.

Sareh and Elham have been charged with “spreading corruption on earth” which carries the death penalty. Their life is at great risk and therefore we call for all charges against Sareh and Elham to be dropped and for their immediate release from Urmia prison in Iran.




Iranian LGBTQ rights activist Zahra (Sareh) Hamadani (file photo)

Amnesty Int. Decries Death Sentence For Two Iranian LGBTQ Activists


Human Rights group Amnesty International has condemned Iran for sentencing two LGBTQ activists to death on charges of “corruption on earth through the promotion of homosexuality.”

On Tuesday, Amnesty called on the Islamic Republic “to immediately quash the convictions and death sentences,” and release Zahra Sedighi-Hamedani and Elham Choubdar.

“Iran’s authorities must end persecution of LGBTI people now,” the group added. The verdict was issued by the Revolutionary Court of the city of Orumiyeh (Urmia), in West Azarbaijan province against Zahra Sedighi-Hamedani (31), known as Sareh, Elham Choubdar (24). Another woman, Soheila Ashrafi (52), was involved in the joint case, but her verdict has not been issued yet.

In July, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said Sedighi-Hamadani has been slapped with new charges of “trafficking Iranian women” to Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan, referring to her as Zahra Mansouri Hamedani. She was first arrested on charges linked to an appearance in a BBC documentary on gay rights in Iraqi Kurdistan.

She was arrested while trying to cross the border and seek asylum in Turkey on October 27, 2021. She was held in solitary confinement for 53 days, during which, the Revolutionary Guard subjected her to intense interrogations, insulted her identity and appearance, threatened to execute her and to take away custody of her children.

On January 16, Sareh was accused of “spreading corruption on earth,” including through "promoting homosexuality”, “communication with anti-Islamic Republic media channels” and “promoting Christianity.”

Amnesty International appealed to Iran’s Chief Justice Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei on January 25, calling for her release.