A court in Iran has sentenced two LGBT activists to death, sparking widespread condemnation among international human rights groups.
A court in Iran's northern city of Urmia found Zahra Seddiqi-Hamedani, 31, and Elham Choubdar, 24, guilty of "corruption on Earth."
The BBC reported that while the death sentences for the two have been confirmed by authorities in Iran, their activism is being framed by the country's judiciary as human trafficking, going against assessments by human rights groups.
The judiciary's news outlet Mizan reported that the two attempted to "deceive women and young girls" and traffic people to "one of the countries of the region."
Seddiqi-Hamedani has been described by Amnesty International as a "gender non-conforming human rights defender."
Seddiqi-Hamedani was detained in Oct. 2021 by Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) while attempting to cross the border into Turkey seeking asylum.
Amnesty International said Seddiqi-Hamedani was detained "solely in connection with her [sic] real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity as well as her [sic] social media posts and statements in defense of [LGBT] rights."
Sedighi-Hamadani said in a video in Dec. 2021, released by the Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network known as 6Rang, "If I make it, I will continue to look after LGBT people. I will be standing behind them and raising my voice. If I don't make it, I will have given my life for this cause."
CNN reported that confirmation had not immediately surfaced indicating that either Sedighi-Hamadani or Chobdar had been able to retain attorneys.
The Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, registered in Norway, said Seddiqi-Hamedani is originally from a predominantly Kurdish town called Naqadeh, which borders Turkey and Iraq.
In July Amnesty called on Iran to stop the "horrific wave of executions" in the country. The organization said Iran's government has been carrying out a systematic string of continued executions "following grossly unfair trials."
“During the first six months of 2022, the Iranian authorities executed at least one person a day on average. The state machinery is carrying out killings on a mass scale across the country in an abhorrent assault on the right to life. Iran’s staggering execution toll for the first half of this year has chilling echoes of 2015 when there was another shocking spike,” said Amnesty's Diana Eltahawy, a regional director for the Middle East and parts of Africa.