Labour MP Nadia Whittome has called on the UK government to help two LGBTQ+ activists that were sentenced to death in Iran.
Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani and Elham Choubdar were found guilty of spreading “corruption on earth” by a court in Urmia this August, according to the Hengaw Organisation for Human Rights.
They also faced charges of “trafficking” as a result of helping at-risk people escape the country, where homosexuality is criminalised and punishable by death.
“The women were targeted due to their real or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity and their social media activities in support of LGBTI communities,” said a release from Amnesty International.
News of their convictions was met with international outrage, with experts at the United Nations (UN) among those demanding a stay of execution for the two women.
“We strongly condemn the sentencing of Ms. Sedighi-Hamadani and Ms. Choubdar to death and call on authorities to stay their executions and annul their sentences as soon as possible,” the experts said. “Authorities must ensure the health and well-being of both women, and promptly release them from detention.”
On 11 October, Whittome, the MP for Nottingham East, raised their cases in Parliament with Foreign Office Minister, Gillian Keegan.
Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani and Elham Choubdar are two LGBTQ rights activists sentenced to death in Iran.
— Nadia Whittome MP (@NadiaWhittomeMP) October 11, 2022
“Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani and Elham Choubdar are two LGBTQ rights activists who have been sentenced to death in Iran,” she explained.
“Amnesty International says that they were targeted due to their ‘real or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity and their social media activities in support of LGBTI communities’.
“Will the Minister commit to raising these cases with the Iranian government and demanding a stay of execution and that they’re immediately released from detention?”
Responding to her colleague, Keegan avoided committing to any efforts to help – instead acknowledging that she is “aware of these cases” and that they “are under consideration.”
Sedighi-Hamadani was arrested in October 2021, with Choubdar detained on an unknown date afterwards.
“Sedighi-Hamedani was reportedly forcibly disappeared for 53 days following her arrest and subjected to abuse and discriminatory insults in a detention centre in Urumieh, where she was held from October to December 2021,” according to an update from the Office of the High Commissioner at the UN on 28 September.
The situation is continuing to be monitored by both the UN and Amnesty International.