In a lawsuit against the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, an Iranian refugee claims that a 2007 documentary outed him as a homosexual, subjecting him to violence and persecution in the Islamic republic.
The CBC film “Inside Iran’s Secret Gay World” detailed the country’s “perilous and inhuman circumstances faced by homosexuals and their struggle for civil rights,” Farzam Dadashzadeh says in his Aug. 15 lawsuit in British Columbia Supreme Court.
Dadashzadeh says he was studying English and working as a hairstylist in Tehran during the filming, and had not disclosed his sexual orientation to family or friends, nor did he ever intend to.
The film included footage from the Jam-a-Jam restaurant in Tehran, “which was identified in the documentary as a known weekly gathering place for homosexuals and transgender people in the city.”
It used footage from a hidden camera, including several close-ups of Dadashzadeh’s face. Because it was shot surreptitiously, he was given no chance to leave the area or cover his face to avoid being identified. The film was broadcast in February 2007, and went “viral” in Iran, according to the lawsuit.
Dadashzadeh learned of the film in March 2007, when a relative called him a “faggot” in an abusive and threatening telephone call. He was “alienated and disowned” by his family, and was “severely beaten by a person, unknown to him, who knew of the documentary, called him a ‘faggot’ and told him he deserved to be hanged. The beating occurred at the same place as the recording, the Jam-a-Jam restaurant,” Dadashzadeh says in the complaint.
He says he was detained by police for two weeks after the beating, while the assailant went free. Iranian police interrogated him about his homosexuality and the documentary, and he was beaten and sodomized by other prisoners, “with the knowledge, and assistance of, and at the behest, of the police,” the complaint states.
He was forced to leave his university, his job, and was rejected from Iran’s mandatory military service for having a “sexual disorder.”
He fled the country in June 2011 and was recognized as a refugee by the United Nations. He lived in Turkey before Canada admitted him as a refugee under the sponsorship of a church in Calgary, Alberta.
Dadashzadeh sued the CBC, former host Evan Solomon, and filmmaker Farid Haerinejad. He seeks damages for negligence and breach of privacy. He is represented by Ib S. Petersen of ISP Employment Law in Vancouver.
Credit: Darryl Greer