Concluding observations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
E/C.12/IRN/CO/2
Full recommendation
The Committee recommends that the State party repeal or amend all legislation that results or
could result in discrimination, prosecution and punishment of people because of their sexual
orientation or gender identity. The Committee recommends that the State party take steps to
combat and prevent discrimination and societal stigma against members of the lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender community, and ensure their enjoyment of all the rights enshrined
in the Covenant, including unhindered access to employment, social services, health care and
education, in line with article 2, paragraph 2, of the Covenant and the Committee’s general
comment No. 20 (2009) on non-discrimination in economic, social and cultural rights.
Assessment using Impact Iran human rights indicators1

A. Repeal or amend all legislation that results or could result in discrimination,
prosecution and punishment of people because of their sexual orientation or
gender identity
Article 19 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran guarantees that all people enjoy
equal rights, “whatever the ethnic group or tribe to which they belong” and that “color, race,
language, and the like, do not bestow any privilege”.2 However, the Constitution lacks an
explicit provision recognizing sexual orientation and/or gender identity as protected
characteristics. Article 20 of the constitution states that “All citizens of the country, both men
and women, equally enjoy the protection of the law and enjoy all human, political, economic,
social, and cultural rights, in conformity with Islamic criteria”.3 The stipulation of “Islamic
criteria” excludes lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals from this legal guarantee as same sex
relations are penalized under the Iranian ‘Islamic Penal Code’.4
The 2013 Penal Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran explicitly forbids sexual relations
between same-sex partners, whether such relations are consensual or coerced.
The offences and punishments for males engaged in same-sex sexual or intimate conduct
(including acts such as kissing or lustful touching) are described in Articles 233 to 237.
Depending on whether the convicted individual is active/passive partner, married/single, or
whether they are Muslim/non-Muslim, the punishment can range from flogging to the death
penalty. The 2013 Penal Code also criminalizes female same-sex relations and intimate
1

ESCR.2.2.S.1; ESCR.12.2.4.S.1; ESCR.13.1.S.1
ESCR.2.2.P.1; ESCR.2.2.P.2; ESCR.2.2.P.3
ESCR.2.2.O.2; ESCR.6.1.O.3; ESCR.9.1.O.7; ESCR.12.1.O.9; ESCR.12.2.4.O.1; ESCR.13.2.O.3; ESCR.13.1.S.1;
ESCR.13.2.O.6
2
Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, http://www.iranchamber.com/government/laws/constitution_ch03.php
3
Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran, http://www.iranchamber.com/government/laws/constitution_ch03.php
4
Iran Human Rights Documentation Center, https://iranhrdc.org/denied-identity-human-rights-abuses-against-irans-lgbtcommunity/#2

1

Select target paragraph3