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How ‘Iran’s Brad Pitt’ used a secret message to support US gay marriage ruling

A famous Iranian actor was interrogated after tweeting in support of the US Supreme Court’s decision to legalise gay marriage. Though he signed a letter begging for forgiveness for his statements, the actor didn’t let authorities have the last word.

When talking about “Iran” and “homosexuality”, the first scene that comes to mind may be a controversial speech that former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave at Columbia University in New York back in September 2007.

“In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country,” Ahmadinejad said to the crowd, who actually burst into laughter.

Ahmadinejad did not mean it as a joke, however. This highlighted the gaping difference between how the two societies and their respective leaders perceive homosexuality.

That gulf still exists eight years later. Homosexuality is still illegal in Iran—and, in theory, the law states that gay men who take part in anal sex in the “passive” position could face execution, though our Iranian journalist Ershad Alijani found no instances of this being carried out. On the other hand, gay rights have been expanding in the USA. On June 26, 2015, the US Supreme Court made a landmark ruling legalising gay marriage in all 50 states.

Iranians discussed this ruling eagerly on social media. But the real buzz happened a day later when Bahram Radan, a superstar in Iranian cinema, tweeted his open support for the ruling.

“Yesterday’s decision by US Supreme court legalising the marriage of homosexuals across the country was a historic one equivalent to the Emancipation Proclamation… from Lincoln to Obama,” the actor tweeted in Persian (below)

radan tw

The next day, June 28, Kayhan, an ultra-conservative Iranian newspaper whose director is appointed by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, criticised Radan’s tweets harshly. The newspaper’s editor-in-chief wrote an editorial asking the government to blacklist Radan over his comments. In the meantime, Radan had deleted his tweet.

But that didn’t stop him from being taken in for questioning by authorities, according to allegations made by Kayhan and confirmed by FRANCE 24’s confidential sources. The next day, on June 30, Kayhan newspaper published an open letter signed by Radan. In it, Radan asked forgiveness for his comments and even said homosexuality was “unacceptable, immoral and un-Islamic”.

But the story doesn’t end there.

The next day, on July 1, Radan reappeared on social media, publishing a photo from one of his films on his Instagram account, which has about 900,000 followers.

The photo shows a scene where a man is holding a gun to Radan’s head.

Many Iranian social media users said this photo explains everything and shows the conditions under which Radan signed the apology letter printed in Kayhan newspaper.

Initially published on France24 on 07/03/2015
Read the full story here.

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