Ali “Alireza” Fazeli Monfared, a 20-year-old gay Iranian man, was allegedly killed by his family after they found out he was gay, on Saturday May 4.
Fazeli Monfared was reportedly kidnapped and beheaded by his male relatives in an “honor killing” in Ahvaz, southwest Iran, after they found out his sexual orientation through his military exemption.
Same-sex relationships are illegal and punishable by death in Iran, and gay people are exempt from the two-year compulsory military service because they are considered “mentally ill”.
Fazeli Monfared had been planning to fly to Turkey and seek asylum there just a few days after receiving his military exemption card, his partner, 20-year-old Aghil Abyat, said, according to the BBC.
However, after one of his male relatives found the exemption card, a group of his male relatives took him to a rural village on May 4 and killed him, the executive director of 6Rang, the Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network told NBC News.
The men then called his mother and told her where she could find the body of her only son. She was hospitalized after she learned of his death, Out reported, citing 6Rang.
The relative had previously told Fazeli Monfared’s father that he had “dishonored the family” due to the way he dressed, according to NBC News.
BBC Persian reported that Fazeli Monfared said months ago that he had received death threats from within his wider family.
On Tuesday May 11, 6Rang told NBC News that no arrests had yet been made in connection with the killing.
Fazeli Monfared’s death caused public outrage, with his name becoming a trending hashtag and people paying tribute to him through social media posts and drawings. Celebrities, including Demi Lovato, also spoke out about his death on social media to raise awareness.
“I went to look at his page and I found that he was so full of life. Immediately, I posted about his death on my social media and it went viral. I wish he had received this sort of attention while he was alive,” Masih Alinejad, an Iranian journalist and activist, told Insider.
“Iran’s LGBTQ community is brutalized both by the regime and by bigotry in certain families,” she added.