Comité pour la défense des droits de l'Homme en Iran

Discrimination against women, LGBTQI community, ethnic and religious minorities

Romina Ashrafi

Honor Killings

Iranian women do not have basic human rights under the law of the IR regime. The right to education, travel, child custody, and divorce are all given to men after marriage. Fathers have rights over their daughters body and life.

14-year-old Romina َُASHRAFI was decapitated by her father after eloping with her boyfriend, and he did not receive a life sentence as a murderer would have had.

Reza Ashrafi, her dad, decapitated her with a sickle as she slept at the family home.

The police had detained Romina and her boyfriend two days earlier after a five-day hunt and sent her back to her family, even though she expressed fears for her life in citing her father's bad temperament.

Reza Ashrafi confessed to the gruesome killing of his daughter while still holding the bloody tool, Iranian media reported.

The May 21 death of Romina in the northern Gilan Province put a spotlight on the all-too-common practice in Iran of "honor" killings, which are both underreported and often hushed up by officials.

Under current Islamic laws in Iran, Romina's father faces a prison sentence of up to 10 years if convicted. He is exempt from the "retribution" law -- meaning the death penalty -- since according to the Islamic Penal Code he was Romina's guardian.

Iranian media have reported that, before beheading his daughter, Ashrafi consulted a lawyer to find out what punishment he would face.

Sahar Khodayari (known as a blue girl)

Gender segregation

Gender segregation is imposed by the IR regime in Iranian society. Women and non-binary communities do not have the right to study certain subjects and some jobs.

Women are not allowed in stadiums.

Public transport, particularly buses, has gender-specific sections.

Sahar Khodayari (known as a blue girl), a 29-year-old woman, set herself on fire and passed away after receiving a six months prison sentence for trying to enter the football stadium.

Was an Iranian fan of Esteghlal F.C. In March 2019 Khodayari tried to enter Azadi Stadium to watch an AFC Champions League match between Esteghlal and Al Ain FC. Because women in Iran have been prohibited since 1981 from attending football matches, she disguised herself as a man to enter undetected. (Women may attend other sports, such as volleyball matches.) But the security guards noticed Khodayari and arrested her for violating the prohibition; they took her to the local NAJA. She was held for three nights in jail before being released on bail, pending her court case.

According to Amnesty International, Sahar Khodayari was ordered six months later to attend a Revolutionary Court in Tehran on 2 September 2019 to give a reason for her attempt to enter the stadium. She was charged with "openly committing a sinful act by appearing in public without a hijab" and "insulting officials". While no verdict was delivered in her case because the judge was unavailable, she was reportedly told she might face a six-month jail sentence. After Khodayari left the court, she poured petrol on herself and set herself on fire outside the courthouse.

She died in hospital one week later due to third-degree burns that she had suffered (approximately 90% of her skin surface area had been affected). According to DW, the six-month jail sentence had been affirmed while she was in hospital.

In October 2019, Iranian women were allowed to attend a football match in Iran for the first time in 40 years. However, in 2022, Iranian women were blocked from entering the stadium for a World Cup qualifier.

Zahra Seddiqi Hamedani


LGBTQ+ activists are sentenced to death, flogging, and imprisonment on charges of promoting homosexuality.

Two Iranian women have been sentenced to death for their activism in support of the country's LGBT community.

The state IRNA news agency reported the sentences of Zahra Hamadani and Elham Chubdar on 5 September 2022, a day after the Hengaw human rights network said it had received reports that the two were informed of the punishment a few days earlier.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) had accused the two of "promoting homosexuality, gambling, fraud, and promoting illicit sexual relations and publishing them on the Internet."

Hengaw said the Revolutionary Court of Urmia ruled in a joint case that the two were guilty of charges of "corruption on Earth," "promoting Christianity," and "communicating with the media opposing the Islamic Republic."

Speaking on the corruption on Earth charge, British LGBT rights activist Peter Tatchell told the Jerusalem Post on September 4 that "this very grave catch-all charge is often used against critics of the regime and those who express opinions that are not compliant with Islamic orthodoxy."

Neither Hamadani, 31, nor her supporters have commented on the allegations, but she has previously been targeted by authorities for her activities related to LGBT rights.

She was arbitrarily detained in October 2021 for her social media posts defending LGBT rights. A month later, she was arrested while trying to leave the country and has reportedly not had access to her lawyer since.

Gays and lesbians are forced to hide their sexual orientation in Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death.

According to a 2020 poll published by the Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network 6rang, 62 percent of LGBT respondents said they had experienced one or more forms of violence by their immediate family. Some 77 percent said they had been subjected to physical violence of some sort due to their sexual orientation.

many clerics and religious politicians defending marriages of girls under 15

Child marriage

Child marriage is a serious concern allowed by the IR regime law in Iran. Statistics show that in the last 8 years more than 100,000 girls under 15 years old were forced to marry.

Child marriage has risen over 30 percent in Iran this year from the same period last year, with 9,750 girls aged 10-14 officially wed in a three-month period.

For years the issue of underage marriage has been debated in Iran, with many clerics and religious politicians defending marriages of girls under 15. Proposed legislation to forbid marriage in for girls under 14 has been pursued unsuccessfully even in relatively more reform-minded parliaments.

Fathers are required in law to agree to the marriage of daughters younger than 13, while a religious court must also certify that the girl is ready physically and mentally, and that she agrees to the marriage. ISNA claimed that judges often seek only the father’s consent and disregard the other requirements.

One major reason for the rise in underage marriages is the current economic crisis where poor families struggling to take care of children see early marriage as a better option. There is a government cash grant of around 200€ for marrying couples, which acts as an additional incentive.

There are also many reports from officials and in the media of parents receive money for agreeing to wed underage girls, often to far older men.

religious minorities

Christian converts

  • An estimated 300,000 to 350,000 Muslim converts to Christianity live in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

  • Although Christianity is a recognized religion under the Constitution, the Iranian authorities do not recognize converts to Christianity and consider them apostates.

  • Once identified, Christian converts risk arrests, detention, and repeated interrogations about their faith.

  • Iranian intelligence services have reportedly continued to closely monitor churches and harass congregations.

  • According to information received from a physician who has reportedly recently treated former detainees, Christian converts are subjected to sexual abuse and ill-treatment.

religious minorities


  • The Sunni minority in the Islamic Republic of Iran constitutes an estimated 10 percent of the population.

  • Non-Shi’as cannot have a high-level governmental position in Iran.

  • In Tehran, Sunnis have reportedly been refused permission to construct a mosque since 1979. Sunnis also face difficulties in repairing existing mosques.

  • Many Sunnis, including clerics, have reportedly been arrested and a number of them charged with national security-related charges.

religious minorities


  • The Baha’is are the largest non-Muslim and unrecognized religious minority in the Islamic Republic of Iran, numbering an estimated 350,000.

  • Since 1979, more than 200 Baha’is have been executed solely on the basis of their religious beliefs.

  • Since August 2005, more than 1,168 Baha’is have been arrested and charged with vaguely worded offenses.

  • Given that the Baha’i faith is regarded as a “misguided sect” and Baha’i worship and religious practices are deemed heresy.

  • In 1991, the Supreme Leader approved a secret official document that was prepared with a view to the gradual elimination of the Baha’is as a recognizable entity in Iran.

  • Since 2013, there have been more than 803 incidents of violations of the economic rights of the Baha’is, including arbitrary shop closures, unfair dismissals from employment, and the actual or threatened revocation of business licenses.

  • Baha’is have restrictions on their access to higher education. Many of those making applications to enter university was rejected. Some students were admitted but later expelled.

religious minorities

Gonabadi dervishes

  • The Gonabadi dervishes are the largest of the unrecognized Sufi orders in the Islamic Republic of Iran and are considered a deviant sect by the Iranian religious establishment.

  • Their places of worship have been demolished, and hundreds of Gonabadi dervishes have been detained and arrested, including following demonstrations in Tehran in February 2018 in protest of the arrest of a Gonabadi dervish leader.

  • There are deep concerns about the situation of members of the Gonabadi dervish community who remain in detention in Gharchak prison without access to their lawyers since the protests of February 2018.

ethnic minorities


  • The Kurdish population of the Islamic Republic of Iran is estimated to be between 8 and 10 million.

  • The regions with a high Kurdish population are characterized by a lack of economic development and high unemployment rates.

  • Kurdish political prisoners charged with national security offenses represent almost half of the total number of political prisoners in the Islamic Republic of Iran and constitute a disproportionately high number of those who received the death penalty and are executed.

  • There are deep concerns about the use of excessive force against and extrajudicial killings of border couriers who often reside the impoverished provinces with a Kurdish majority.

  • State schools do not offer education in Kurdish, which is available only to students through private classes, reducing the accessibility and affordability of Kurdish education.

ethnic minorities


  • The ethnic Balochi population of the Islamic Republic of Iran is estimated to be 2 to 3 million.

  • Most Balochis live in Sistan and Balochistan Province, one of the most impoverished provinces in the country, with the vast majority of the population living below the national poverty line.

  • Mostly Sunni Muslims, the Balochis face intersectional discrimination.

  • There are first-hand accounts describing the basic infrastructure as minimal with no running water.

  • In the absence of educational facilities throughout the region, many of the inhabitants need to travel to Zahedan, the provincial capital, for post-primary education and hospital care.

  • A lack of official documentation or proof of citizenship has affected the right to education for the predominantly Sunni Baloch population of Sistan and Balochistan Province.

  • One member of parliament has estimated that up to 36,000 children in the province lacked identification and were deprived of the right to education.