December 7, 2007
Young Iranian Man Executed for Alleged Sex Crime Committed When He Was Just 13
Makvan Mouloodzadeh was executed on Dec. 5 for allegedly committing acts of anal rape (sodomy) with another young boy when he was only 13 years old.
At the trial, the witnesses recanted pre-trial testimony because they were made under duress and Mouloodzadeh stated that his confession was coerced. Despite the lack of witnesses, he was convicted and sentenced to death on June 7, 2007. His conviction was upheld on appeal by the Supreme Court.
He was executed despite demonstrated international outrage (led by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, the Human Rights Watch, and other well known groups), through a letter writing campaign. Due to this international pressure, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court overturned the initial affirmation of the conviction. "In his November 10, 2007 opinion (1/86/8607), the Iranian Chief Justice described the death sentence to be in violation of Islamic teachings, the religious decrees of high-ranking Shiite clerics, and the law of the land." See IGLHRC Press Release "Iran: Young Man Executed for Alleged Sex Crime"
However, the "Special Supervision Bureau of the Iranian Justice Department" reinstated the conviction and he was subsequently executed at the age of 21.
This is an outrage.
The "evidence" presented at this trial could not possibly have been sufficient to convict the defendant of a criminal act. According to the journalist who covered the trial, "[t]he judge did not bother to order medical examinations to see if rape had taken place, nor did he bother to order medical examinations to see if torture of the witnesses had taken place . . . The judge's verdict of guilty, and his sentence of Makwan to death, was based purely on his personal speculation[.]" See Gay City News coverage (12/06/07).
Even if the defendant in this case committed non-consensual sodomy with other children (which is not at all clear due to the fact that none of the witnesses would testify at trial), and the government could prove that he committed the crime (also not clear that this occurred here), how can a 13 year old be sentenced to death? International law prohibits imposing the death penalty against children. See IGLHRC Action Alert. Sentencing this child to death, especially based on the circumstances of this particular "trial" is unconscionable and constitutes the most extreme form of cruel and unusual punishment imaginable. This is just a speculation on my part, but I would guess that if this child had been accused of raping a young girl, he would not be punished in this manner. It seems that this young man, just 21 years old, was executed because he was gay.
December 5, 2007
ABA forms Commission to address Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity
The ABA has formed a commission to address sexual orientation and gender identity issues. The commission "will work to eliminate bias and discrimination against persons of differing sexual orientations and gender identities in the legal profession, the justice system and society." See ABA News Release.
The commission's first meeting took place Nov. 30-Dec. 1.
December 3, 2007
Kansas lawmakers passed a law "requiring schools to adopt policies prohibiting bullying on school property or vehicles and at school-sponsored activities. The law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, also requires districts to implement anti-bullying plans that include training and education for staff and students." See The Wichita Eagle, Taking a Stand Against Bullying (12/3/07).
Student bullying is often aimed at LGBT youth, who are just starting (in many cases) to learn about their own sexual orientation. It is crucial to protect all students from bullying during their developmental years, when such name-calling and harassment can negatively stunt emotional development.
This law is a step in the right direction. As the National Center for Lesbian Rights makes clear, a school might be held liable under state and federal anti-discrimination laws for failing to prevent or stop bullying against LGBT youth. See NCLR's Publication entitled "Fifteen Expensive Reasons Why Safe Schools Legislation is in Your State's Best Interest" (noting that in a sampling of 15 cases brought against school districts for failing to protect a child against sexual orientation discrimination, the school district either settled out of court or lost at trial).
Thus, guidance from the state legislature regarding appropriate non-discrimination policies is very helpful in avoiding potential liability and protecting our youth (which is, in and of itself, a worthy goal).