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Arsham Parsi is an Iranian LGBT Human Rights activist who lives in exile in Canada. He is the founder and head of the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR).

Arsham Parsi



Arsham Parsi is an Iranian queer activist and founder of Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR). Parsi works as a queer activist to make sure Iranian gay citizens aren't being improperly treated. Parsi has faced death threats, excommunication, but he is resilient in his fight.

In 2001, Mr. Parsi had formed a small LGBT Internet group called Rangin Kaman (Rainbow Group), which was renamed as Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization in 2004. As the PGLO would not be recognized in Iran, a friend of Mr. Parsi's officially registered PGLO in Norway. The PGLO later became the foundation for Mr. Parsi's Toronto-based Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO) in 2006. IRQO would later be reinvented and renamed as the Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees, or IRQR, in 2008.[1] The organization's headquarters are in Toronto, Canada, and it has branches in the Netherlands, as well as an underground office in Iran, where it is banned.[2]

He began secretly working for the advancement of civil rights for lesbians and gays in Iran. In 2003, he helped organize a clandestine Yahoo chat group for gay Iranians. They called it Voice Celebration. In total there were 50 participants, making contact with each other and exchanging views on how best to achieve civil rights. Less than 3 years later, he was asked to speak publicly in Geneva, Switzerland, at the 2nd session of United Nations Human Rights Council and on 4th anniversary all international media published some articles about Iranian queers.

Parsi was the executive director of the Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO) and director of the organization's online magazine, Cheraq for several years. In October 2008 he decided to lunch a new organization which is Iranian Railroad for Queer Refugees (IRQR). He is working on Iranian queer asylum cases since several years ago and he has been quite successful. He is an Iranian member of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), based in Brussels, Belgium, and ambassador of Iran in the International Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network (ILGCN), based in Stockholm, Sweden. Director of the cultural committee at the Iranian Association of University of Toronto (IAUT) in 2007, Parsi is also a member of the Rainbow Railroad group based in Toronto, Canada, and the Advisory Committee of the Hirschfeld Eddy Foundation.[3]

Personal life

Parsi was born in Shiraz, Iran.[4] As a gay Iranian, he felt alone until at age 15 he discovered solace in the Internet. Parsi began volunteering for underground gay organizations. At age 22, he began working for PGLO and networked with doctors to provide HIV testing. He responded to emails from suicidal gay teenagers. The strict laws against homosexuality forced Parsi to keep his work secret from friends and family.[5] But in March 2005,[4] Parsi realized the police were looking for him[5] and fled from Iran to Turkey, where he spent 13 months. Unable to return to Iran, Parsi lives in Toronto, Canada.[4]

International Recognitions

Arsham Parsi has been interviewed by most of international major media and easily you can find his interviews by searching his name. In April 2008, Iranian Queer Organization (IRQO) which was his former organization name awarded Felipa de Souza Award in 2008 by the New York-based International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). Two months later, Mr. Parsi's work was recognized with the Pride Toronto Award for Excellence in Human Rights.


Arsham Parsi is working on his first book with Marc Colbourne as co-writer. This book named I have a dream, too.[6]

See also

External links


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