LGBTQIA+ people in Iran face significant legal challenges. Any type of sexual activity outside a heterosexual marriage is forbidden in post-revolutionary Iran and the government is one of the most discriminatory against sexual minorities in the world. An estimated 4000 gay people were executed in the immediate aftermath of the Islamic revolution. Same-gender sexual activities are punishable by imprisonment, corporal punishment, flogging, and even the death penalty. Gay men face stricter enforcement actions under the law than lesbians. Penetrative intercourse between two men is always punishable by death for the receptive party, whereas the penetrative party receives the death penalty if he used coercion or is married, and 100 lashes if not. Non-penetrative intercourse generally is penalised by dozens of lashes. Intercourse between two women incurs a penalty of 100 lashes and is punishable by death upon the fourth offense. Any LGBTQIA+-related online content posted or shared is punishable by prison and flogging. Nonetheless, transgender persons can legally change their gender and name after gender affirmation surgery; but they still face discrimination and harassment in society. LGBTQIA+ Iranians have limited legal recourse making it difficult for them to live openly and access basic services such as healthcare and education.
The lifestyles of LGBTQIA+ people in Iran are systematically denied by the Islamic regime, which exposes them to horrific punishment, bullying, and the risk of suicide. They are heavily stigmatised and criminalised, in Iranian society from family members, peers, and even strangers. Many LGBTQIA+ teenagers in Iran suffer emotional anguish from social isolation, intolerance, distorted self-image, job loss, and family violence. LGBTQIA+ children are unprotected from violence and frequently expelled from homes and schools. LGBTQIA+ individuals in Iran are forced into marriage or gender affirmation surgery as part of gender confirmation surgery. This leads some of them to self-present to healthcare professionals. However, the professionals do not often know how to address their issues, leading to distress and poor mental health in LGBTQIA+ individuals. There are several reports of police attacks and arrests at LGBTQIA+ gatherings. The societal challenges facing Iranian queers can lead to significant mental and emotional stress, as well as physical harm. Many Iranian LGBTQIA+ people hide their identity to avoid being ostracised or punished.
There are few resources available to help LGBTQIA+ people from Iran based in European and American countries:
Many LGBTQIA+ people have fled to neighbouring Turkey, where their status is not a crime. In 2020 alone, over 1400 Iranians sought international protection from Turkey's Directorate General of Migration Management. The UNHCR reported that as of February 2021, there were 6,586 Iranian asylum-seekers in Turkey, and many of these are members of the persecuted LGBTQIA+ community. They are generally transferred to the third LGBTQIA+-friendly country after a long (to 5-6 years) and difficult period staying in Turkey. Some escape and seek asylum in European and North American countries that provide greater protection.