A staunch advocate for mandatory hijab is under scrutiny after footage of him engaging in homos*xual s*x began to circulate on social media. Reza Tsaghati has since been dismissed from his role at the Gilan Islamic Education and Guidance Department.
The video, which appears to feature Tsaghati walking around nude before engaging in a s*x act with a much younger man, first emerged last week and was quickly shared across social media. Iranian netizens expressed outrage and shock at the clip, with many noting that Tsaghati was a proponent of forcing women to wear head coverings.
Women who refuse to wear a hijab in public in Iran can face up to two years in jail, though repeat offenders can expect to spend more time behind bars if newly-proposed legislation passes.
The revelations of Tsaghati’s s*xual proclivities emerged just one day after an Iranian court ordered three women to undergo intensive psychiatric treatment for not wearing hijab. One of the women, veteran actress Afsaneh Bayegan, was also given the maximum two-year prison sentence as well as a ban on using the internet.
Tsaghati was formerly the head of the “Hijab and Chastity” Working Group of Gilan and was known for being a “hijab watchdog,” enforcing mandatory hijab for women and girls. The strict laws resulted in a wave of mass protest last year after a woman died while in the custody of Iran’s hijab-enforcing “morality police.”
IRNA News revealed that Tsaghati had nearly two decades of experience in Iran’s public service, most of which revolved around promoting Islamic religious practices and Iranian culture.
Tsaghati had previously served as head of the Department of Culture and Islamic Guidance of Rasht, the cultural and artistic advisor for the general director of Culture and Islamic Guidance of Gilan, and as the director of the cultural and artistic complex of Khatam al-Anbiya in Rasht.
According to Iran International, Tsaghati had announced the launch of a “hijab hypermarket” in Gilan this past May, and had sought to establish a “hijab exhibition” to focus “on producing clothing in line with ‘Iranian-Islamic culture.’”
While the clip has not yet been formally addressed by law enforcement, articles 108 to 112 of the Iranian penal code stipulate homos*xual activity is illegal and may be punishable by execution. The footage purported to be of Tsaghati’s s*x act has already been scrubbed from social media, though was reviewed by The Publica prior to its deletion.
Iranian netizens have taken to using a Persian-language h@shtag of Tsaghati’s name to accuse officials of hypocrisy, with many noting that, beyond his dismissal, no charges have been brought against Tsaghati in accordance with Iranian law.
“Now we joked and laughed, but the truth is that [Tsaghati] was not ar*ested, nor was he warned. Nothing new. Some people took care of him so that his family wouldn’t be ashamed, and [others] said, ‘well, he has homos*xual tendencies, that’s not a problem,’” human rights journalist Hadi Mehrani said.
“In Islam, [sodomy] is punishable by de@th, so why was there no news of his ar*est at all,” another user asked, with the question gaining nearly 8,000 likes. “I’m not letting this go,” the user continued.
Earlier today, Morteza Mahmudvand, a member of the security and foreign policy commission of Iran’s parliament, called for President Ebrahim Raisi to intervene and for the Minister who had overseen Tsaghati’s department to resign.