WASHINGTON- Today Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay civil rights organization, issued a statement on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the controversial president of Iran, declaring in a speech at Columbia University today that there are no gay people in his country.
President Ahmadinejad, who is visiting the U.S. to attend the United Nations General Assembly Session, was invited to speak at Columbia University as a guest of its World Leaders Forum. In response to a question from an audience member concerning Iran's documented abuse of homosexuals and women, Ahmadinejad replied, "In Iran, we don't have homosexuals like in your country." During the same speech, Ahmadinejad was confronted with Amnesty International figures suggesting that Iran had executed 200 people this year, including people labeled as homosexuals. Ahmadinejad said, "Don't you have capital punishment in the United States? You do too. In Iran there is capital punishment."
"Today's assertions by President Ahmadinejad that there are no homosexuals in Iran would be simply absurd were it not for the fact that international human rights watchers have long documented some of the most horrific acts of persecution and violence committed against gay people in Iran. These acts of terror have included incarcerations, beatings, and brutal executions. Ahmadinejad's denial that there are gay people in Iran shows the extent to which he devalues the lives of the many citizens his government has and continues to violate."
The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against GLBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.
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