Demand Justice for Sareh – please sign the petition
Sareh lived and worked in Iraqi Kurdistan. Following an interview with BBC Persian about the situation of the LGBT+ community in Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, she was identified and detained for 21 days by the police.
On 27 October 2021 Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani (also known as Sareh), was arrested by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in the West Azerbaijan Province of Iran, while she was attempting to cross the border to seek asylum in Turkey.
She was charged with crossing the border illegally and accused of: “promoting homosexuality, gambling, fraud, and promoting illicit sexual relations and publishing them on the Internet.” No evidence has been offered by the IRGC to substantiate these baseless accusations. Sareh was coerced into confessing to these “crimes,” potentially through acts of torture, including solitary confinement and threats that the State will take custody of her two children.
These accusations can lead to capital punishment.
It is clear that what has taken place is not due process.
On 1 September 2022 Sareh was sentenced to death by the dictatorship in Iran for “Corruption on Earth”. Her friend Elham Choubdar has also been sentenced to death for the same reason. Sometime after Sareh’s arrest, Elham was also arrested while in Iran and, similarly to Sareh, was charged with “encouraging corruption and prostitution.” The forced confessions of other detainees were used as evidence against her. Sareh is 31 years old and Elham is only 24!
On 5 September 2022 following public outrage, Iranian authorities justified the ruling by claiming that Sareh and Elham have been involved in “trafficking women to a neighbouring country” and denied they were being sentenced to death because of their activism.
We ask you not to ignore Sareh’s detention and sign this petition for her freedom.
This campaign is run by 6-Rang (the Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network) and International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) Asia.
National Trust members to vote on banning ‘divisive’ and ‘woke’ Pride celebrations
Anti-LGBT+ National Trust members are asking members to vote for the charity to ban “divisive” Pride events.
The National Trust is a charity and membership organisation for heritage conservation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, which owns a huge variety of land and historic buildings.
Despite the organisation having almost six million members, resolutions for its Annual General Meeting (AGM), to be held on 5 November, can be put forward with the support of just 50 members.
This year, members will be asked to vote on a resolution calling for National Trust participation in “divisive” Pride events to be banned.
The resolution states: “Be it resolved that this AGM deplores participation by the National Trust in gay pride parades as divisive and an unaccountable waste of members’ subscriptions.”
The accompanying explanatory note reads: “The National Trust took part in the Birmingham Gay Pride event in 2019. In a letter to the proposer, the Director-General admitted no account was kept of the expenditure nor of any resulting subscription revenue.
“The participation was unaccountable, divisive and an exercise in virtue signalling. It was unbecoming in a body which should be dedicated to preserving the nation’s heritage for all and being a faithful steward of its members’ subscriptions.”
In its 2022 AGM handbook, the National Trust’s board of trustees lays out its own position against the resolution, but ultimately has no control over whether the resolution goes ahead.
“The National Trust’s role is to protect and promote everyone’s heritage, of which LGBTQ+ history is an important part,” the trustees said.
“We do not believe that taking part in any of the cultural celebrations we support is divisive, in fact we see these events as an opportunity to bring people together.”
Any and all members who joined the National Trust on or before 27 August 2022 are eligible to vote on resolutions, even if they do not attend the AGM in person or online, with a closing date of 28 October 2022.
A spokesperson for the National Trust said: “The National Trust was founded for the benefit of everyone.
We serve the whole of our wonderfully diverse society and we want to do that to the very best of our ability. This includes supporting our staff, volunteers and visitors to take part in cultural celebrations including Pride, which they have been doing for many years.
The AGM and resolutions process is a critical part of our governance and importantly, it allows our members to vote on issues that matter to them. This resolution does not align with our values and it runs counter to our ethos.
We urge our members to vote against this resolution and to help us keep the culture of understanding and respect that we are dedicated to fostering at the National Trust. We fully support our staff, volunteers and visitors being able to take part in celebrations of LGBT+ society and history, including Pride.”
Times Gone By – LGBT+ History:
Michaelangelo’s David unveiled – 8 September 1504
It was on this day in 1504 that Michelangelo unveiled his statue of the biblical hero David outside the Palazzo della Signoria in Florence, Italy. David is considered to be one of the masterpieces of Renaissance art, but did you know that Michelangelo’s statue almost never came to be?
The origins of the David are in the early 1400s, when the Santa Maria Del Fiore Cathedral commissioned 12 sculptures of Old Testament heroes for the cathedral’s roof. However, only one of these pieces, a statue of Joshua by Donatello, was actually completed. In 1464, Agostino di Duccio, one of Donatello’s pupils, was commissioned to carve a marble statue of David. Agostino only got as far as roughly shaping the legs and feet and starting to form a hole that would become the space between the legs. The project came to an abrupt halt in 1466 when Donatello died and Agostino quit the project. Ten years later, another sculptor would be hired to work on the David project but would be abruptly fired. So, the slightly formed marble block would sit unused and exposed to the elements for 25 years.
In 1501, the masters of the cathedral determined that something must be done with the marble block that was supposed to be a statue. Many experts and artists, including Leonardo da Vinci, were called to determine what could be done with the giant block. Eventually, the commission was given to the then 26 year old sculptor Michelangelo, who had already completed The Pietà two years earlier when he was just 24.
As the sculpture’s completion date neared, it became obvious that it would be impossible to lift the six ton statue onto the cathedral’s roof as originally planned. After much debate, a panel of 30 prominent Florentines, including da Vinci amusingly enough, decided to place David in the Piazza della Signoria next to the Palazzo Vecchio, the city’s town hall, where it was unveiled on 8 September 1504. In 1873 the statue was removed from the plaza and put on display in Florence’s Accademia Gallery. Since 1910, a replica of David has stood at the statue’s original site.
Since the statue’s unveiling, it has become a symbol of Florence. This particular interpretation of the biblical hero is interesting for two reasons: The first is that it’s done in the style of classical nudes, which was uncommon for religious statues of the time. The second is that unlike most depictions of David,
Michelangelo’s David, does not depict the hero holding the head of the defeated Goliath. Instead, David is depicted just before battle, preparing his slingshot. Some art historians have seen a political meaning in the sculpture, saying that David represents the Florentine Republic’s defence of civil liberties and constant threats to Florence from neighbouring Italian states. Along these same lines, it’s worth mentioning that when the statue of David was first installed, its glare was pointed in the direction of Rome and the Vatican.
Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas
On 8 September 1907 writer Gertrude Stein first met the love of her life, Alice B Toklas, in Paris.
Stein and Toklas were American writers who spent most of their lives in France where they became extremely influential in the development of modern art and literature. Together they hosted a Paris salon that attracted well-known members of the avant-garde artistic and literary world. Among their numerous colleagues, friends and patrons were Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Thornton Wilder, Ernest Hemingway, Georges Braque, André Derain, Max Jacob, Guillaume Apollinaire, Henri Rousseau, Sherwood Anderson and Ezra Pound. “Everybody brought somebody,” Stein wrote, “and they came at any time … it was in this way that Saturday evenings began.”
Stein was an acclaimed modernist writer known for challenging conventional understandings of genre, narration and form. Toklas, a fierce advocate of Stein’s work, encouraged her to write The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas (1933), which brought the two women international recognition. Shifting between biography, autobiography and memoir Stein was able to obscure the exact nature of her relationship with Toklas while telling the colourful story of the life they shared. Two well-known lesbian Jews, Stein and Toklas remained in France and survived both World Wars. Stein died at the age of 72 from stomach cancer in 1946. Toklas, who penned the famous Alice B Toklas Cookbook (1954), spent the remainder of her life protecting and promoting Stein’s legacy until her own death in 1967. They are interred in Paris in the Père Lachaise cemetery where they share a grave and a headstone.
Last month we showed a programme of LGBT+ short films at the Mini Cini at Ducie Street Warehouse. For our next viewing (date to be confirmed), please vote here for Victim (1961) or La Cage Aux Folles (1978).