Iranian men identified as homosexual by an invasive physical and psychological screening process are permanently exempted from compulsory military service, leading some to deliberately out themselves to avoid serving.
According to a report by Middle East news outlet Al-Monitor, Iranian men require proof of completing the compulsory two years military service to be legally able to buy or sell anything, to participate in or be employed by the government, or to qualify for a passport.
While many affluent Iranians seek exemption from military service by a range of means, receiving a homosexual exemption exposes gay Iranian men to social and economic exclusion and the country’s prevalent homophobic violence.
Despite this, gay Iranians are reportedly self-identifying as gay in the pre-service examinations to avoid military service.
Examining officers and doctors are required to report those who display preliminary evidence of “queerness,” resulting in more extensive tests. Gay Iranians told Al-Monitor the tests are “humiliating and stressful,” involving rectal examinations looking for evidence of receptive anal intercourse.
Under Iranian military regulations, only a receptive male partner during anal intercourse is defined as homosexual.
Gay men face severe social and legal oppression in Iran, and in apparent contrast to Iran’s military, the government in Tehran has previously denied even the existence of homosexuality in the country.