Gay rights activists have asked to meet former Iranian president H. E. Sayed Mohammed Khatami during his visit to Melbourne, hosted by Anglican Archbishop Philip Freier.

After outrage from the Jewish community, Freier extended an invitation to them and other religious minorities persecuted in Iran under Khatami’s regime from 1997 to 2005.

Australian Coalition for Equality spokesman Rodney Croome said if Freier’s invitation was sincere he would extend it to GLBT groups.

-œWe want to ask Mohammad Khatami whether he supports the persecution and execution of homosexuals, and what, if anything, will bring the harassment and killing to an end, Croome said in a statement today.

Khatami was invited to Australia by La Trobe’s Centre for Dialogue and will give a public lecture on 26 March. The Centre asked Freier to host a function at his Anglican Archdiocese residence for Khatami.

The Jewish Community Council of Victoria resigned from the Centre’s board of advisors in protest this week. But the Centre’s director Professor Joseph Camilleri told The Age that the response was an over-reaction.

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