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Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni

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Iranian youths Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni on the scaffold. (Mashhad, July 19, 2005)
Iranian youths Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni on the scaffold. (Mashhad, July 19, 2005)

Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni were Iranian teenagers from the province of Khuzestan who were hanged in Edalat (Justice) Square in Mashhad, northeast Iran, on July 19, 2005. The case attracted international attention due to the age of the boys, and the claim that they were put to death for consensual gay sex.

The executions were first reported in English by the British campaigning group OutRage!, who claimed that the Iranian Students' News Agency, in an online article on the day of the executions, indicated that the two were executed because they had been caught having sex with each other. This claim has been challenged by Hadi Ghaemi, Human Rights Watch's Iran researcher and a native Persian speaker, who said that the ISNA article was titled "Lavat beh Onf." He translated the title as "homosexual act by coercion". [1]s


Most interpretations of Shari'a (Islamic Law), calls for the death penalty for homosexual acts, but the Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Iran is a signatory, forbids the execution of juveniles. According to Asgari's lawyer, Rohollah Razaz Zadeh, "death sentences handed to children by Iranian courts are supposed to be commuted to five years in jail," [2], but the Supreme Court in Tehran upheld the death sentence. The ages of the boys remains unclear, with some sources claiming they were fourteen and sixteen at the time of their arrests and sixteen and eighteen when executed, and others claiming that the older boy, Marhoni, was already nineteen, and therefore not a minor, when the alleged crime(s) took place.