[R-G] Khomeini on Sodomy

Yoshie Furuhashi critical.montages at gmail.com
Tue Sep 25 09:02:53 MDT 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Khomeini on Sodomy

Laws concerning same-sex sex are against certain sexual acts, not
against certain categories of persons, in Iran.1 In my opinion, it is
in the interest of Iranians to overturn such laws, as they have been
in Cuba and South Africa, as well as many countries in the North
(though in the USA not until 2003: Lawrence v. Texas). I do not think,
however, that one has to subscribe to the idea of sexual orientations
to overturn them.

For instance, do you know Khomeini had a hilarious opinion about sodomy?

     Ayatollah Khomeini's 1947 manual, Risaleh-yi Towzih
     al-masa'il (Explanation of problems), is a case in point.
     Article 349 of this book states that "if a person has sex
     and [his organ] enters [the other person's body] to the
     point where it is circumcised [corona] or more, whether
     he enters a woman or a man, from behind or the front,
     an adult or pre-adult youngster, and even if no semen
     is secreted, both persons will become ritually polluted
     (najes)." But ritual impunity can always be cleansed
     away through the observance of rules stated in the
     same manual. (Janet Afary and Kevin B. Anderson,
     Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the
     Seductions of Islamism, University of Chicago Press, p. 159)

Iranian men and women might amend the existing laws against sodomy,
which, if successfully prosecuted, entails harsh punishments, by
reinterpreting this 1947 Khomeini opinion: you may commit sodomy as
long as you are mature and clean yourself by ablution after your

1 To understand this distinction, see, especially, Michel
Foucault, The History of Sexuality: An Introduction (New York:
Vintage, 1990 [originally published in France in 1976 and translated
into English in 1977]). Other useful works on the origins and
development of modern discourse of sexuality include John D'Emilio,
"Capitalism and Gay Identity," Powers of Desire: The Politics of
Sexuality, eds. Ann Snitow, et al. (New York: Monthly Review Press,
1983), pp. 100-113; and Jonathan Ned Katz, The Invention of
Heterosexuality (New York: Dutton, 1995). See, also, Yoshie Furuhashi,
"Clash of Sexual Civilizations," Critical Montages, 25 September 2007.


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