Lowry Theatre … Valentine’s Night … Death Sentence Against Lesbian Activist Overturned! … One Year Ago Today


Lowry Theatre

The Lowry is a landmark quayside building comprising two theatres and galleries.

The Lowry is named after Laurence Stephen Lowry (1887 – 1976) – an artist who spent much of his life in Salford and whose work is strongly associated with the city.

Salford Museum and Art Gallery had been a long-standing collector of his work and some 400 individual works – as well as an extensive archive of photographs, press cuttings and exhibition catalogues – were transferred to The Lowry on its opening in April 2000.

Today, The Lowry provides critical and curatorial analysis of his work and seeks to raise his profile as an artist of international stature. Our trip to the Lowry Theatre Gallery involved a chaotic visit to a pizza restaurant, a red carpet welcoming people auditioning for the “Britain’s Got Talent” show and a glimpse of TV presenting duo Ant and Dec.

More photos can be seen here.

Beautiful Thing

Do you want to spend Valentines Night celebrating the best of LGBT+ films?

As part of the Love is Love: LGBTQ+ History Month Film Night event, Manchester Central Library, St Peter’s Square Manchester M2 5PD will be screening Beautiful Thing on Tuesday, 14 February at 6:00pm.

Register here.

Death Sentence Against Lesbian Activist “Sareh” Overturned!

Zahra Sedighi Hamadani (known as Sareh) Source: 6Rang

Amnesty International has reported that the death sentences against Iranian activists Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani (Sareh), 31, and Elham Chobdar, 24, have been overturned. The pair were sentenced to death for “corruption on Earth” in September 2022, while they were detained in Urmia jail, located in the Northwestern town of Urmia. 

“Corruption on Earth” is the Iranian title of capital crimes used to justify murdering those who “threaten social and political well-being.” Sareh and Chobdar were sentenced to death for their “perceived or real sexual orientation,” their support of LGBT rights on social media, and for “smuggling women and girls.”

“Through a complex, multi-layered and extraterritorial intelligence operation, the leader of a network involved in smuggling Iranian girls and women to neighbouring countries for the purpose of corruption and directing and supporting homosexual groups that work under the protection of (foreign) intelligence agencies,” The Intelligence Organisation of the Revolutionary Guards claimed.

Amnesty International called the allegations “spurious and baseless.” 

“The allegations stem from the women’s real or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity and in the case of Zahra Sedighi-Hamadani, association with other Iranian LGBTI asylum seekers fleeing systematic persecution in Iran,” Amnesty International reported. 

Sareh was first arrested by Iranian security forces when she tried to flee to Turkey, after returning to Iran from Iraqi Kurdistan, in late 2021. On top of “spreading corruption on Earth,” she was accused of “promoting homosexuality and Christianity,” and “communication with anti-Islamic Republic media channels.” 

“The accusations stem from her public defence of LGBTI rights, including on her social media platforms such as Telegram and Instagram, and during an appearance in a BBC documentary aired in May 2021 about the abuses that LGBTI people suffer in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq,” Amnesty International reported.

The accusation of promoting Christianity was for when she wore a cross necklace and attended a house church in Iran several years ago.

Sareh was interrogated for 53 days. While in detention she was subjected to degrading insults about her appearance and “lifestyle,” as well as death threats. Interrogators threatened to take her two children away. At the same time, Sareh’s friends were arrested and forced to provide confessions against her. Some were aired on state TV.

In a video posted before she departed for Turkey, she said: “If I reach the other side it’ll be ok. If not, it’ll be obvious what has happened. I’m sending this video … so that you understand how much pressure we bear.”

6-rang, an Iranian gay support network, reported at the time, “It is clear to all of us that what has taken place is not due process, but a re-run of a show familiar to many of us who grew up in the suffocating atmosphere of the Islamic Republic.

Sareh must be released immediately and unconditionally. We ask all human rights organisations and the media not to ignore Sareh’s detention, and to work for her freedom.”

The two women are no longer on death row. Their cases have now been referred to the lower court, but the women remain in custody. 6-rang has created a petition to ensure the women’s release and safety.

One year ago today – A Minute’s Violence

Derek Jarman’s work creates a sacred space for us. At the launch of Jarman’s PROTEST! exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery there was a minute’s silence for World AIDS Day. In return, one year ago today, we offered A Minute’s Violence for Derek Jarman, inspired by the queer magick of his work and his activist life.

We cast a circle in the gallery and for a solid minute we each read simultaneously and aloud from a different text. The “violence” of our title comes from the intensity and urgency of our subjects: AIDS trauma, deportations, lesbian (in)visibility, racism, the Catholic church. Here is the film that Lee and Ben generously made of our zap – an experience of joy, excitement and power connecting us with queer heritage and community.

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