Iran has sentenced two women LGBTQ+ rights activists to death over what authorities say are charges related to human trafficking.
The country’s official IRNA news agency reported the news Monday. Since the news broke, many online have condemned the decision.
Iranian authorities say the women, Zahra Sedighi Hamedani, 31, and Elham Chobdar, 24, have been accused of “corruption on earth,” according to media reports.
The charge usually is used for those who have gone against Iran’s government, according to the Associated Press. Authorities said the two had “misused” young women and girls and referenced human trafficking.
The AP reports that the two women have been identified, however, as LGBTQ+ activists.
A court in Uremia, Iran — about 370 miles from Tehran — gave the judgment. The two are still able to appeal.
Sedighi Hamedani, who also goes by Sareh and also is gender non-conforming, was arrested in October by Iranian authorities after she attempted to flee to Turkey. She had returned to Iran after having been based in Iraqi Kurdistan, Le Monde reports. She had decided to seek international protection after being detained by regional authorities there.
The coordinator at the Germany-based Iranian LGBTQ+ group 6Rang, Shadi Amin, told the Agence France Press, “We now demand pressure from Germany and other foreign governments” be put on Iran to free these women.
She continued: “This is the first time that a woman has been sentenced to death in Iran for her sexual orientation.”
In a video sent to 6Rang by Sedighi Hamedani before her arrest, she said, "We, the LGBTQ+ community, are suffering. Whether through death or freedom, we will remain true to ourselves.”
A Norwegian-based human rights group, Hengaw Organization for Human Rights, said security forces detained Chobdar also due to “promoting homosexuality,” the AP reports.
Activists have said Iran has cracked down on LGBTQ+ Iranians in recent years. Homosexuality is banned and criminalized in the country for both men and women.
Iran reportedly executed two gay men earlier this year over charges of sodomy.