Sexuality, migration and identity among gay Iranian migrants to the UK

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


Homosexuality is strictly forbidden in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is punishable by imprisonment and flogging, and, under certain circumstances, it carries the death penalty. Although homosexuality has long been a social taboo in Iranian society, the Islamic Revolution of 1979 introduced draconian judicial measures against this ‘social ill’. There are thousands of non-heterosexual people currently living in Iran-many of them remain socially invisible’ to avoid persecution. The immense social stigma of homosexuality and danger of state-sponsored persecution, on the one hand, and the desire to ‘live out’ one’s sexual identity, on the other, can potentially induce social and psychological dissonance with negative outcomes for well-being (Jaspal and Cinnirella 2010). Many non-heterosexual Iranians seek ways out of Iran in pursuit of greater social and sexual freedom. For example, some individuals have utilised educational and vocational opportunities in the West in order to leave Iran-this has allowed exposure to different ways of thinking about their sexualities. Often migrants are joining sizeable Iranian communities around the world: for instance, there are over 120,000 Iranians living in Canada and some 70,000 Iranians currently living in the UK. Migration can offer important opportunities for, and changes in, sexual identity development, as well as continued involvement in the Iranian ethno-national community.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationQueering Religion, Religious Queers
EditorsYvette Taylor, Ria Snowdon
ISBN (Electronic)9780203753040
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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