by Rex Wockner
International News Briefs
Iran’s Health Ministry says that as of mid-October, a total of 20,130 Iranians have tested HIV positive, 2,097 people have been diagnosed with AIDS and 3,409 HIV-positive people have died.
The ministry said 93 percent of those who tested HIV positive are male and only 13 percent of infections resulted from sex, with 77.5 percent resulting from sharing needles to inject drugs.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has claimed that Iran does not have gay people “like you have in (the U.S.)”
“In Iran … absolutely such a thing does not exist as a phenomenon,” he said in 2007.
There have been persistent, though unconfirmed, reports for years that Iran hangs men for the crime of engaging in sodomy, but the only sodomy-related executions that have been publicized involved individuals who were accused of additional crimes as well, such as rape.
In a 2008 interview, Ahmadinejad denied that people are executed solely for engaging in homosexual acts.
“Homosexuals are not even known who they are to be hanged,” he told the Democracy Now! radio program. “So, we don’t have executions of homosexuals. Of course, we consider it an abhorrent act, but it is not punished through capital punishment.”