The official website of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has removed a portion of a transcript of his speech yesterday at Columbia University. In the scrubbed section, part of a question and answer period, Ahmadinejad said there are no homosexuals in Iran.
In a statement released by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission the organization noted that the comments had been removed from the Persian language version of the site, but left in the English transcription of the speech. Following an inquiry by PageOneQ made to the Iranian embassy, the entire question and answer period has been removed from the site.
PageOneQ and Raw Story reported Monday on Ahmadinejad's comments (Story - Video). In response to a question on the execution of gays in Iran, Ahmadinejad said there were no homosexuals in his country."In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country," he said. Audience members booed and howled at the guest. "In Iran we do not have this phenomenon, I don't know who has told you that we have it," he added.
"The first reaction of many of us was to join in the astonished response to President Ahmadinejad's clearly outrageous view that no lesbian or gay people live in Iran," said IGLHRC executive director Paula Ettlebrick. "But, the whitewashing of his comments from the eyes and ears of most Iranian citizens speaks to something more troubling. His denial attempts to simply erase from public view the lives of men and women who face regular abuse in his country. Perhaps he knows he could not credibly get away with such a denial among his own people."
The president's website normally contains full transcripts of Ahmadinejad's speeches. According to IGLHRC, no Persian language papers have reported on the remarks. "To date, not a single Persian-language media outlet in Iran - including Iran's official news agency, IRNA, and the semi-independent news agencies, ISNA, Mehrrnews and Farsnews, and the Wednesday morning newspapers - has reported on the President's comments," said IGLHRC's statement.