No homosexuality please, we’re Iranian

Ever since Ahmadinejad’s comments at Columbia University that there’s no homosexuality in Iran:

In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals. In Iran we don’t have this phenomenon. I don’t know who has told you we have it,

comment has been rife, much of it amused, some of it outraged, some of it informative.

On the latter, we learn from Brian Whittaker at the Guardian:

Such claims are difficult to sustain, faced with a centuries-old tradition of homoerotic themes in Persian and Arabic literature and jokes in popular culture.

Almost every country in the Middle East has at least one town – Idlib in Syria, for example – which has become the subject of jokes about its supposedly homosexual inhabitants. In Iran, it’s Qazvin – a town whose reputation dates back more than 600 years to the time when Obeid e Zakani, a bawdy poet and satirist, lived there.

Since the Islamic revolution in Iran, there have been strenuous but not always successful efforts to bury this past. Of all the Muslim countries, Iran at the moment is probably the most active in persecuting gay people. This probably has less to do with religion than local political and cultural factors.

Which is fair enough but then he rather spoils the effect by quoting from Afary and Robinson. The latter have, increasingly, a lot to answer for as their world view comes to be taken up by various members of the right (we saw this with David Frum).

Now comes Andrew Sullivan with an unsupported spinoff that Foucault’s “embrace” of the Iranian revolution was “repulsive.”

For anybody who thinks ideas and writings don’t have consequences.

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