June 13, 2007
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran’s parliament on Wednesday voted in favor of a bill that could lead to death penalty for persons convicted of working in the production of pornographic movies.
With a 148-5 vote in favor and four abstentions, lawmakers present at the Wednesday session of the 290-seat parliament approved that “producers of pornographic works and main elements in their production are considered corruptors of the world and could be sentenced to punishment as corruptors of the world.”
The term, “corruptor of the world” is taken from the Quran, the Muslims’ holy book, and ranks among the highest on the scale of an individual’s criminal offenses. Under Iran’s Islamic Penal Code, it carries a death penalty.
The “main elements” refered to in the draft include producers, directors, cameramen and actors involved in making a pornographic video.
The bill also envisages convictions ranging from one year imprisonment to a death sentence for the main distributors of the movies and also producers of Web sites in which the pornographic works would appear.
Besides videos, the bill covers all electronic visual material, such as DVD and CDs. Other material, such as porn magazines and books are already banned under Iranian law.
To become law, the bill requires an approval by the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog in Iran.
It is widely believed that the drafting of the bill came about as a reaction to a scandal last year, when a private videotape, apparently belonging to Iranian actress Zahra Amir Ebrahimi and allegedly showing her having intercourse with a man, became available across Iran.
The videotape was leaked to the Internet and released on a black market DVD, becoming a full-blown Iranian sex tape scandal. Ebrahimi later came under an official investigation, which is still ongoing. She faces fines, whip lashing or worse for her violation of Iran’s morality laws.
The unnamed man on the tape, who is suspected of releasing it, reportedly fled to Armenia but was subsequently returned to Iran and charged with breach of public morality laws. He remains in jail.
In an exclusive interview with the British newspaper The Guardian early this year, Ebrahimi denied she was the woman in the film and dismissed it as a fake, made by a vengeful former fiance bent on destroying her career.
In recent years, private videotapes have increasingly been leaked to the public in Iran, riling the government and many in this conservative Islamic country, where open talk of sex is banned and considered taboo.
However, porn material is easily accessible through foreign satellite television channels in Iran. Bootleg video tapes and CDs are also available on the black market on many street corners.