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"Eshgh, Tars, Azadi" (Love, Fear, Freedom)

Ashkan Shabani | Iran

Iranians face many obstacles. Some come from the regime imposing ideological restrictions and political pressure, while others result from the strained economic situation. Still, more pressure comes from the public’s closed, traditional way of thinking. Homosexuality is a target that both society and the regime are against. In post-revolutionary Iran, any type of sexual activity outside a heterosexual marriage is forbidden and homosexual sex is punishable by death based on the laws of Sharia. For over 40 years, the Islamic Republic of Iran has denied that gays exist in the country. Iran is among the few countries in the world where homosexuals still risk execution for their sexual orientation. As a result, gay men and women live with systematic suppression, discrimination, family rejection, and judicial problems. They live their lives in fear every day. Despite this, under the skin of Tehran and many other cities, homosexuals find ways to overcome these restrictions so they can pursue love, life, and a future that recognizes their existence. The idea of freedom still seems remote.

The photographer is part of the LGBTQ+ community himself. He has been disowned by his family, and threatened with rape and death he is able to reveal a world unknown to many because he is living through the trauma as he documents his own experience.

Ashkan Shabani


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